Social Media & Us – who shapes who? (@ecarsontc)

Social Media 01

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosauraochoa/3256859352/

I had the honour recently to spend the day in the house of Lords.  With a little bit of ceremony thrown in, this was a something of a special treat for a history, tradition, politics and patriot geek like me.

Unsurprisingly, and contrary to the cliched stereotype, the peers that I met seemed gracious, intelligent, proactive; the sort of people you would feel to be both capable and trustworthy.  Probably closer to the cliched stereotype though, was the building itself and the ceremonial aspect which, despite the various welcome modernising of recent years, still drips with history, a fact that formed part of the discussion at lunch.  I remember being struck at how profound it was that it was here, inside a living memorial of where this country’s past, that these men and women were being asked to play their part in deciding the nation’s future. Maybe it’s the anglican in me that struggles with the Russell Brands of this world who would rather wipe the slate clean and start afresh,  of course I don’t suggest that the system as it stands is ideal; but I do believe understanding our history is crucial to deciding our future; we forget that at our peril.

Either way, Churchill was onto something when he said (actually in a commons debate on the rebuilding of war damaged parts of the Houses of Parliament) that, “we shape our buildings, and afterwards our building shape us”.

Trouble is, it’s not just our buildings, so many things of our own making turn round to ‘bite us on the bottom’ in various ways (and I’m not just referring to our children), in fact, if writers like Marshall McLuhan are to be believed, absolutely everything changes the way our culture works, from language to stone age tools, but definitely to the internet and Social Media.

But the thing is, until recently, I’ve never really thought much about it… have you?

Nicholas Carr wrote a fascinating (if somewhat bleak) book called “The Shallows” suggesting the internet makes us all worse at reading deeply and reduces our attention span.  Maybe he’s right; I hadn’t really thought about it.

But Thessalonians does tell us to test everything (well, to test prophecies in tongues actually but it still seems good advice) – If Social Media really is changing us in important ways (and I suspect it is), I want to know how, I want to know the good and the bad (it surely has both – we’ve created it in our image) so I can know how to use it in both a wise and Godly way.

The idea that Social Media might have its own nature that changes us in ways we do not tend to notice, except in hindsight, is pretty scary – so when the chance came to write my Master’s Dissertation, it seemed the perfect opportunity to explore the idea.

I’d love to know your thoughts and you can help me with this, you don’t need to write any of the dissertation, but I would dearly love to draw on your ideas and experience by asking you a maximum of the 8 questions below, also found here.

About ecarson

Aiming 4 authenticity in Digital & Physical Space. MA student & Ex Hsemaster/IT Tcher. Follow things Godly, Family, TechEd, SexEd, Rowing, Classical, Heraldic.