Thursday, August 04, 2016

Social media: Weird and wonderful?

Two startling events happened in the past week. Both had to do with social media.
Last week, I was on my way to a meeting in the courthouse when I ran into two Pokemon Go players.
I had seen people chase Pokemon monsters before. A week earlier, a middle-aged woman was walking down the middle of Walnut Street near First Baptist Church, studying her phone in what I have to assume was a Pokemon Go encounter.
The two Pokemon Go players I saw at the courthouse were both dressed in black. One was walking, the other was riding in a motorized wheelchair. Both were studying their phones and the guy walking told me he was not only finding Pokemons but was killing them.
It reminded me of one of my friends on Facebook who advertised his yard sale by promising there would be lots of Pokemon monsters in his yard and encouraged all players to come and see. Obviously, it was the old "get them in the tent to make your sales pitch" approach. Quite clever.
Perhaps ministers should do that.
"Come to church this Sunday! See how many monsters you can slay in the sanctuary!"
Ministers won't say that because Pokemon Go players have tunnel vision -- they can only see what's on their phone and even if they see the pulpit on their screen, it's doubtful they will hear anything the pastor is saying.
Last week, I received a social media request from a person in Dallas, Texas, asking me to connect on Linked In.
I accepted. I have hundreds of similar contacts on social media but nearly all of them are in Indiana and those outside the state I am related to or have worked with (I think.) This contact was different. This person in Dallas and I have no mutual contacts. They had to find me through my profile on that social media platform.
That is curious, encouraging, and weird all at the same time.
It is encouraging because when I am not at "my day job"as a reporter for The Brazil Times, I am a free lance writer. Writing brought in some much needed dollars when our children were small and while, at the moment, my extra-curricular writing doesn't bring in any money, it might, some day.
This person in Texas might be a contact that will lead to extra employment. Who knows? In this day and age, it doesn't matter where you are located, your virtual presence can be anywhere in the world thanks to the Information Superhighway!
I may not have to explain to my older readers why this Linked In contact is "curious" or even "weird." But for younger folks, here goes.
We are not used to having any kind of relationship with someone we have never seen.
We have talked business on the phone, we have written business letters, but social media is more than that. It suggests a real, three-dimensional person is getting to know you through your presence on the Internet. In my case, they read my blogs and social media posts. This is something new to many of us.
By the way, this person in Texas is not in the business of selling me anything so a sales pitch can be ruled out. It feels different from any long distance interaction I've had in the past.
As these long distance relationships over social media continue to develop, the World Wide Web becomes just that -- a web connecting people of all races and religions anywhere in the world.
I can very well imagine in the next few years a world leader announcing plans to bomb an enemy nation or enemy stronghold and then facing an uprising of his or her own residents.
"You can't bomb that part of the world! I have social media friends who live there!"
So, people are getting outdoors playing Pokemon Go (and running up their data charges and, in some cases leaving small children to fend for themselves) and people are making connections in other parts of the world through the Internet and all the social media apps like Facebook and Twitter.
Curious ... weird ... and, maybe, wonderful?