Last night some friends and I were sitting around at dinner, and conversation turned to the recent National Equality March. Don’t recognize the name? You’re not alone–though news organizations report tens of thousands of participants, almost none of us at the table had heard about the march before it happened.
This came as some surprise, as we were a table full of very politically involved women–many of us participated in rallies in the wake of Proposition 8, or phone-banked for marriage equality in Maine and New Hampshire, or stumped for candidates in local elections. And we’d certainly gotten wind of other marches and events in the past, often making sure to mention them well ahead of time at our weekly dinners.
And then it dawned on me: we weren’t on Facebook.
All of my previous interactions with the kinds of groups that rally together for events like National Equality March happened on Facebook, but I recently deactivated my account. (Long story.) The other women at the table either don’t check their accounts regularly (and probably haven’t joined any groups or become fans of pages that would send them alerts) or never signed up in the first place.
It’s a sobering thought to realize you might miss an important event if the bulk of the organizing and promotion takes place on a social networking site you don’t use. And for many of us working in libraries, moments like these should be a wake-up call: if your district, school or branch prohibits social networking use, you’re missing out.
We talk a lot about which social networks teens are using and how you and colleagues can make sites like Twitter and Facebook part of your personal learning networks, but what about the ways we’re cutting ourselves off from the fabulous work other people are doing when we opt out of (or were never allowed to opt into) social networks?
You raise an interesting point about social networks–thanks for sharing! I would also suggest that association involvement/membership played a role here as well. As a member of the National Organization for Women, I received regular email updates from NOW leading up to the march. Being politically involved is great, but there are clear benefits to also being involved in local, state, national &/or international organizations. These organizations provide information, resources and support to help individuals and groups be effective advocates and politically engaged citizens.
Beth, that’s a great point, and I’m glad to hear NOW was involved in the march (along with many other great organizations).
That said–I would hazard a guess that some of the organizations involved were still doing much of their publicity for this particular event through social networking, not necessarily email (although clearly there are options to receive alerts through email). Heck, one of the big suggestions from Equality Across America for organizing locally is “Start a Facebook Page for your Congressional District”!
I really do think that the bottom line is that politically active people and libraries Must be involved in social networks, as more and more individuals and organizations look to these tools as the predominant means for spreading information about news and events.
mk, you are busted… I tweeted about this march A LOT. 🙂 by the way it was announced at the MEet in the Middle rally that happened here in Fresno.
I’m totally busted. But that actually proves my point, I think: if we’re not Active on our social networks, we miss much of the value. (And if we’re not on them at all, we might miss the boat entirely!)
Had this been a library event, yes, as Beth pointed out, an organization like YALSA would’ve kept me in the loop. But much of the smaller stuff I learn about comes through other librarians on Twitter, and I miss a lot of their content if I’m not checking my feed after work. (Especially if we’re in two different time zones, Lisa!)
This is where I think the discussion segues nicely into Connie’s post on public versus private. I have a personal policy of not responding to work email from home, but am I missing out on professional opportunities if I do the same with Twitter?