On the road...again!!!
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
Communicating on Social Media
When I review the number of friends or subscribers that traffic counters on social media sites tell me that I have, it is a bit dismaying to think that my sphere of influence is pitifully small. On the largest social media site in the world (Facebook) my homepage traffic counter says that I have a little over a hundred friends. On the site where I sometimes post and share technical interest stories, the counter reports that I have 95 regular reviewers. That same site (LinkedIn) inconsistently counts the number of clicks made when reviewers presumably read selected stories. Collectively, the number of clicks on my stories and posts exceeds the number of subscribers to my LinkedIn homepage, thus suggesting that lurkers are far more numerous than purported friends and/or subscribers to that homepage. Lurkers, of course, are those visitors who come to look and perhaps to read but may not add content themselves before moving on to other sites.
At one extreme is the pitifully small number of subscribers at my Blogpost media site (less than four) despite the fact that the site itself is an alternative receptacle for virtually all of the stories I have posted over the years. That site does not tally the number of clicks on individual stories. It also does not matter. Lurkers can read what they are interested in; and that is exactly what I, as author, hope they do. Sharing my postings with others has always been the one and only objective and it does not matter whether lurkers and regular readers like my posts or not.
At another major social media site (LegacyStories.org), the one I chose to be the main archive of my blog posts, the registered number of my friends and subscribers I count (all of 7 people) does not accurately reflect the importance of the site as a repository for thousands of hits on the stories found there. No need to feel unrecognized or inconsequential because I have only 7 friends. The lurkers who come and go without registering or making comment have been exposed to content of various kinds; and have marked the occasion of their visits by the collective tally of 342,000 hits on my stories. The issue is not about me, it is about the effectiveness of social media sites and their role in contemporary communications.
Having various social media sites where a person can share information is a valuable tool in the overall process of communications. If others believe, as I do, that the purposes of communications are: To Instruct…To Inform... and To Entertain, then being a participant and a subscriber to various social media sites holds out the possibility of being influential as a player in real-time circumstances. Two-way dialogue is not only possible, it actually works. Active real-time dialogue has come into its own as a way to communicate and likely will become even more important as a feedback mechanism regarding issues great and small.
The author who would hope to instruct by way of posting to social media also opens the lines of communication with readers who might have questions that they would like answered. Just like a telephone conversation between parties across town or across the globe, a computer-based social media site is the conduit system. Correspondents who wish to dialogue can do so. The authors whose purpose is merely to inform others can reach a worldwide audience in a matter of seconds. Responses to posts might be in the mix, but not always relevant nor expected. Regular readers and occasional lurkers presumably obtain what they came for. Those who share stories to entertain may or may not have a single purpose. The one-way free exchange of their ideas might seem to be a passive approach but when the ideas shared are controversial in nature, there may be blowback in the offing. And there should be, if ever the author and the correspondents in the dialogue expect to learn anything from the feedback.
There is seldom a single motive for communicating on social media websites, with or without feedback dialogue. Some of the bolder authors of political commentary, especially those who craft editorials and essays are more likely to have a host of reasons to initiate and foster dialogue. Writers and freelancers, for example, may have a strategic agenda pertaining to establishing their credentials. Some of them may be promoting their wares, perhaps to hasten the sale of books. In that case, a typical response to an inquiry might be, for example, “buy my book and you will see what I’m talking about in Chapter 3."
On a strictly personal level, the serial Chronicles of a Footloose Forester have become the ultimate MEMCOM (Memorandum of Communication) archetype of the guy who took field notes when working in the woods and kept his 22 notebooks handy for reference. Along the way, he decided to share some of the stories about exotic locations through social media and in doing so, promote the idea that two-way communication also serves the purposes: To Instruct….To Inform...To Entertain.
The act of communicating well cannot be underestimated. Too much discord in our collective histories can be traced back to ill-conceived, incomplete or misconstrued thoughts, words and actions that were never properly communicated. We all can do better and we should.
It is never possible to recall everything with complete clarity but keeping notes helps to sharpen the focus. In back-and-forth verbal exchanges it is expected that subsequent tellings may change the tone, if not the context. When a point of view is derived from a written account, there is virtually no wiggle room. The re-telling requires absolute intellectual honesty, even if the written account is not accurate. That is to say, the written version might be interpreted in various ways, but the words themselves cannot be altered, manipulated or disguised to mean anything except what is there. Hence, the power and the substance of the MEMCOM holds a great deal of credibility. When the date and place are part of a good MEMCOM, defending an argument becomes easier.
Nobody underestimates the importance of having written records more than our so-called president. He seems so sure of himself and his ability to talk his way out of any situation, that he eschews his own team of note takers and translators in favor of just about anyone on the other side. If he won't suscribe to having documented records of his own, historians will be forced to present their collective interpretations of what they think happened. The following thoughts were contributed by a contemporary thinker. The notes were excised and pasted below as:
Although this White House leaks like a sieve, it is shaping up to be a White House short on good records of high-level meetings, unless Trump actually does have tapes as he suggested and then denied, regarding his conversations with former FBI director James B. Comey. That’s too bad for historians of the future trying to make sense of this presidency, and particularly the Trump-Putin relationship.
James Goldgeier is dean of the School of International Service at American University.