I enjoy digital literacy. I pay bills on-line, I manage my academic blog, I own a Kindle, and I regularly e-mail friends and family. What I don’t do is tweet or “friend” people. For years I have weighed the value of joining social media for purely social reasons. When my youngest child went to college, I figured I would “join” her socially. She graduated last month without me lurking. When a dear, true friend moved to Cairo, Egypt to teach, I figured I would finally “join”. I didn’t. She came back to visit this past weekend, a year away from each other, and I was still the one she turned to, asking for a little party to see everyone (that she saw on Facebook). After reading the article JG shared this week, I even pondered experimenting by “joining”. Yet, I’m still on the fence. I think I have concluded one thing; I’m not against social digital media. I’m actually glad people enjoy it.
I guess my modified version of social media is a family e-mail that I send once a month to the closest relatives. They all respond, and their always glad I started it or so they say. We only see each other once each year, so we can keep in touch this way. Many of them have “joined”, and sometimes I miss out on pictures I guess. I guess I’d have more friends if I “joined”, but that might also change my definition of friend. I enjoy lunch out with my friends, but I also see this is sometimes risky. In many ways I think we like to avoid risks. Maybe someone won’t answer when I call them on the phone, caller ID allows me to screen who I want to talk to when. Chatting with someone on-line might be less risky, but then I don’t really want to chat with my friends – I want to see them, interact and know what they are thinking, as much as what they are saying. Again, I’m not against social digital media, it’s just not my chosen form of interaction.
Time might be a factor in my decision too. I don’t want to be tempted to access something when I’m standing in line waiting – It might make me less angry that I am waiting, but then I am waiting for a human interaction. Paying my bills anymore, doesn't even require me to stand in line for stamps. That statement proves I’m not physically writing letters either – so maybe some part of my literacy skills are suffering by not joining socially. Sometimes when I attend joyful (name changed to protect the innocent) hour after work on Fridays, people walk in knowing what others have done all week because they are connected. I do at times feel left out, and I sit and think “maybe I should just join”. When I get home, I’m over that thought because I have just connected socially with a fun group of people. Now, I’m home with family and I want to connect with them, not with the internet.
Still, I’m not against this stuff. This blog right now allows me to interact socially with my peers, but then am I doing this for academic reasons? I’m not sure; maybe I’m just weighing things in print, an act of social literacy, because it is an academic expectation. Perhaps I’m proving another author correct, learners use literacy in two complementary ways, socially and academically. I’m feeling “squishy” to steal another author’s term. Maybe social digital media is in my present after all. Maybe when my kids get married I’ll officially “join”.