We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.
Marshall McLuhan, 1964
About two years ago I wrote my master’s thesis largely around that quote. I interviewed all different sorts of people asking them questions about which social networking sites they use, how they use them, and why. The strict nature of an academic thesis didn’t allow me to flesh out certain stories as much as I would have liked. Essentially, my thesis didn’t allow me to highlight personal anecdotes. I aim to do that now.
My principal interest isn’t social media. It never has been. I am principally interested in the ways people choose to define and identify themselves. The ways people articulate themselves into being. Zoning in on social networking sites, for me, was an easy way to do this. I thought that looking around a MySpace page and asking a kid questions about why they chose to do what with that page, was the same thing as poking around a teenager’s bedroom. Seeing what posters they put up, the person they are trying to be and why. This is the stuff that has always interested me.
I have a big respect for personal stories. I hold onto stories, I remember them. There is a lot in the news, media, advertising and businesses about social media. It’s a buzz word. Because it’s a buzz word there are more and more people trying to say what social media is, what it is not, and how it works.
I think that McLuhan quote is fitting because when he says, “We reshape our tools,” that “we” is ambiguous. In one way there is collective reshaping, but there is also an individual reshaping. Based on our lives, our past experiences, our point of view, no one person will ever see something the exact same.
My goal for the social MEdia series is to host a collection of stories about people from all around the world sharing their relationships with social media. How they use it, how they see it, and how they see themselves connected to it (and thereby, perhaps connected to one another.)
If you have a story to share and would like to be interviewed for this series please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stories can be anonymous.