Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Foray into Social Media

In many ways, I’m an “all or nothing” kind of girl. With new technology, I tend to hold out, thinking “I don’t need that” and have nothing to do with it at all … until I try it out … just a little … then I’m hooked. I go all-out, diving in head first without looking back.

Case in point: facebook. I remember thinking what kind of book of faces would be helpful to me in any way? I simply disregarded facebook as something for a younger generation (subconsciously pondering the fact I used a term like ‘younger generation’ – ouch!) and nothing I needed to know. Then I heard it in a conversation, it was referenced in an email, a friend asked if I was “on facebook” … so naturally, I had to check it out to see what it was about. Just a peek. Well, hundreds of posts and dozens of photo albums later … I’m hooked. It's a great way for me to keep in touch with Army friends across the globe ... and nothing beats those "Welcome Home" photo albums!

Same story, second chapter … Twitter. I mean, really … Twitter? Could anything sound more silly? You can ‘tweet’ and ‘retweet’ and those you ‘follow’ and ‘follow you’ are your ‘tweeple’ … oh, and to avoid being a ‘twit’ – someone who doesn’t understand or use Twitter – you should sign up right away. I’m not making this up. Google “twitter vocabulary” online and you’ll see it all there. [On a side note, when did ‘google’ become a verb in the English language?]

Okay, so I was firm in my non-twittering stance … and then our brigade announced it would be using Twitter to keep us updated as our deployment comes to an end! I was shocked. Wasn’t Twitter for tweens? So … you see the punchline coming … I had a look. I signed up for my free account and, of course, I love it. I absolutely LOVE getting instant notifications from our brigade when there is an announcement. How convenient is that?

In case you’re not convinced of my ‘convenience’ argument, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, at an Army post far, far away … there was an FRG (Family Readiness Group) Leader. Her husband’s unit was coming home from a six-month training deployment and she must notify all of her FRG members of their impending return. She is happy to relay this message – they’re coming home! Birds sing. The sun shines. Happiness abounds. Once her phone calls are complete, she gaily dances to prepare herself for the homecoming ceremony. Alas! The phone rings again. The time for the ceremony has changed … no problem, she trills … and joyfully calls each of the members again. Tra-la-la … they’re coming home … oh! What’s this? Another phone call … and another … and another. The birds have flown, the sun has set, and she is frantically sprinting toward post, almost missing the ceremony for having been on the phone so many times.

Not the best fairy tale in the world (except the happy ending where the Soldiers DO come home!!) but you see my point. Now instead of making a dozen phone calls at every change in ceremony time (I don’t know the average number of ceremony time changes for each homecoming, but it must be at least 2 or 3 changes per each), everyone can receive their very own Twitter message! You can choose to have the messages sent to your cell phone (a feature that can be turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ for everyone you ‘follow’) or simply have the messages go to your Twitter page, where they remain, unobtrusive, until you login and check them yourself.

I also see that the Army as a whole is using many of these social networking and information sharing websites. Not only can you become a ‘fan’ of the Army on facebook and ‘follow’ Army updates on Twitter, you can share information from the webpage with: Digg, Diigo, Facebook, FriendFeed, Google Bookmarks, LinkedIn, Live, Mixx, myAOL, MySpace, Newsvine, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Technorati, Twitter, and Yahoo Buzz! I can’t pretend to know what some of these are; perhaps additional research is required?

So there are a few of these sites that I understand and use, yet there is a world of others I have yet to conquer. For now, I’m a ‘fan’ of the Army and Army Well-Being; and I ‘follow’ them both on Twitter. Others I simply do not need and I will have nothing to do with them … yet. Stay tuned.

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