(This won’t be the first time I reference rapper, singer, songwriter Childish Gambino in a blog post and it won’t be the last! Also appropriate as the first 4 second track on ‘Because the internet‘ is called ‘The Library (intro)’.)
I’ve wanted to write something about social media for a while now…
I’ve had this blog and my ‘professional’ twitter for about 6 months. After being fiercely afraid of having anything properly public on social media so far it’s been an experience I wish I’d started sooner. I’ve made some fantastic connections on Twitter. A mix of people I was following when I just had a personal private account and a whole heap of new amazing professionals who I follow.
A huge thank you to anyone who has read this blog, left comments, answered my rambling questions and thanks to anyone who’s followed and/or chatted to me on Twitter.
I will say this about Twitter; as I mentioned I had a personal private twitter account (I had it for agggeeees) and I kept it private because I do find it completely weird and unnerving that anyone anywhere, with access to the internet, can read what I’m saying. Not even that, where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with – depending on what I’m tweeting about. It really does freak me out a bit. I’ve overcome this for my ‘professional’ Twitter because I did want people to hear what I was saying (even if it’s just ‘Hey look at this great new book we just got!’) and I did want to have conversations with people and hear what other people in the library world, and other worlds, were saying.
Having Twitter for a focused use has made me enjoy social media more and really be much better at it. Before I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or say or what to use it for. I mingled in between personal tweets, random stuff, some library things, art things… I felt a little all over the place. I was a student; then I was in and out of library work, I did want to be a librarian, but I was switching jobs and had lots of different jobs. I also felt like a bit of a fraud wanting to come into the circle of librarianship and information professionals online when I didn’t consider myself anything near a professional proper librarian… I didn’t know how to fit myself into 140 characters. Twitter initially felt a lot like when an art teacher would say ‘You can do anything!’ and my mind would just go blank. I needed focus to make a good contribution.
I’ve also found social media really helpful in getting honest accounts of library work and jobs. Previously, for the most part, when I’ve seen people speak in more formal settings about their work they’ve been all singing, all dancing, about their job. From what I’ve seen on social media people have been more honest about previous jobs and given positive and negative viewpoints of the sector as a whole. It’s comforted me in the fact that I’m not the only one having negative experiences within the sector now and then and I can learn from other people. Sorry for kind of schadenfreude-ing you all by the way!
A negative aspect of social media ,and something that has and does hold me back, is that it also scares me a bit because of how mean, nasty and down right weird people can be online. I’ve noticed I’ve been holding back on discussions and asking what people mean by something they’ve said because I’m worried about the backlash. What if I say something ‘wrong’ or that’s considered controversial without realising? For example, I’ve been reading into the ‘Little Free Library’ and other people’s views on this because I want to expand my knowledge and I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. In the future I’m going to try and ask more questions without being afraid of people’s replies and contribute to discussions more.
The internet, and the world, seems to have a majority feeling that your opinions are fixed and whatever you thought yesterday is true today. This is obviously not the case. People can learn, be informed and change their minds. If I have an opinion someone disagrees with it would be great to have a discussion about it without either of us feeling like we’re being personally attacked. This is definitely something I’m going to try and do more of.
Overall, I feel like my blog and my Twitter have been good for me. I really wanted this blog to document my journey and help me develop my writing skills. I know these blog posts aren’t perfect, but I’m getting more confident with each one and my writing skills are developing. Twitter has been amazing for contacting people all over the world, hearing different opinions and view points of the library and information sector and further afield. People have been so quick to offer up advice and help me out with queries and I really appreciate it (thanks!).
Finally, advice I would give to someone who hasn’t yet got a ‘professional’ Twitter or been getting into social media in their chosen field. Do it! If you can. I think the hardest thing is if you’re in a job or profession and it’s not the one you want to be in in the future. For example when I was an administrator, after working in libraries and archives, I didn’t feel I could say on Linked In or Twitter… ‘Hey actually sack this admin stuff I want to work in libraries again! Who cares about admin?!’ and it would be wise not to do the above! But if you have avenues to explore or mention you are always concerned with developing your information skills in whatever field you’re in that can also work!
Again thanks to everyone who has been so warm and welcoming so far on social media in the library and information world and anyone else I’ve spoken to. Let’s hope it continues!