Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fiddling around on facebook?

photo: Brian Reeves
Slacktivists, couch potatoes, facebook fiddlers -- whatever they get called, it doesn't sound good. Another derisive term I really hate is sheeple.

Looking past the name calling, I see that people are called to action at different times and by different circumstances. When people are ready, they fall eagerly upon the tools at hand and get busy. Until then, there is always some idle amusement to while away the hours.

My CODEPINK friend Janet has been urging me to write up what I told her about why facebook has been such an effective tool for me as an organizer.

Janet and I are facebook friends, but like many of our middle aged cohort, we are disinclined to spend untold hours in front of a screen virtually interacting with others. We really like real time face to face contact with others, even perhaps believing a minimum amount is critical to our morale and mental health.

If your inbox is anything like mine, it's stuffed to the gills and I only ever open a small fraction of it. So people emailing me cool links sometimes get through, and then I know I miss a lot. Priorities and time pressure have a lot to do with which emails I open.

I only go on facebook when I have a bit of time. Besides using it to create events I can invite local friends to easily, I post status updates occasionally, especially as reminders of events about to happen. I like to set my News Feed to Most Recent instead of Top News, which is prioritized according to how many comments an item gets. On Most Recent I get a steady stream of what a wide ranging group of people think is worth reading or watching.

Items come and go, but a good item will have a long life due to a chain of sharing. If I miss it the first or second time, I could see it again as subsequent people share it. My facebook friends act as a filter that bring me news, often from publications I would not otherwise visit -- local newspapers, websites, foreign news sources, and so on. Sometimes I explore from that point if I see other links that look interesting. This has broadened my reading. Hooray!

Video as a medium has opened up for me largely as a result of facebook posts. Here's my current favorite. Why is disturbing economic news so hilarious when presented by robo-voiced characters speaking slightly fractured English? I don't know, I just enjoy it.

Another good part about sharing articles or videos is they are automatically put in a folder called Links. I went to Preferences to make it visible on my Profile. I can search through this folder when I'm looking for something I read or saw, but I can't find a way back to it by googling or otherwise searching. Links is a chron file of what I found interesting or significant. Kind of like how people like my grandparents would have kept newspaper clippings, but much more dynamic.

I hope you find your best tools and put them at your service, whether your chief concern is environmental justice, prison justice, human rights, or bringing our war $$ home.

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