Living in Reality

by Sam

I was hanging out with my boyfriend and two of his roommates in their apartment earlier tonight, when we started to talk about the (awesome) class that I just enrolled in for this semester: Social Media for Mass Communication. As someone who already tweets, blogs, flickrs, foursquares, etc., CNJ595 is basically a dream come true for me; it’s the manifestation in class form of the connectivity that I believe is so fundamental to both the science and art of communication itself- except not everyone agreed. For the most part, we were split 50/50, 2v2, half pro-social media, half just not seeing the point, and though I’m not about to quit blogging anytime soon, the opposition did hit hard. “We’d rather exist in reality.”

Which raises a good point. Where does reality end and cyberspace begin? Does tweeting about the awesome new bike trail that I found make it any less real? Does sharing, in essence, remove the sharer from the scene? I’ve certainly stopped to snap a quick photo here and there of a beautiful sunset, a sandy beach, a wild concert, only to share it instantaneously over the web. Did I miss something in this exact moment?

Today, I was forced to park my car far, far away on the opposite side of campus- about a fifteen minute walk from where I needed to be. Stressed, overwhelmed, and tired, I still found myself frantically reaching for the crackberry each time it chimed the arrival of a new email, facebook update, @reply. I was checking the news, checking my timeline, when suddenly, I realized what I was missing. It was a beautiful, sunny, Florida day. There were palm trees swaying, bright and fluffy clouds in the sky, beautiful pink flowers sprouting from a nearby bush. A car rushed by, and fellow students rushed to class. I put my phone away and didn’t touch it until I arrived at my destination. This was the real world, and it was amazing.

Should I have shared this experience right away with the rest of the world? After all, maybe the insight could have helped someone, somewhere in some far off place. I like to frequently reflect on life in my posts; wouldn’t something like this qualify?

Does it make me a hypocrite to blog about truly living?

Like everything in life, I’ve come to realize that it’s all about balance: balance between living and helping others to live as well. As human beings, we are called upon to assist one another in thriving, to share the knowledge that we have. And that’s one of the most incredible things about the internet: its capacity for doing just this, sharing. When I connect with other via WordPress, I don’t do it to promote my own self branded image, or at least, I shouldn’t if I plan on practicing pure, responsible journalism. I connect, because I’ve discovered something, thought of something, experienced something that I need to get out there. Information kept within my own reach is powerless; information shared can change a life, change the world.

So, in my opinion, social media, when balanced correctly with the rest of the world, does not tarnish reality, but rather, optimizes its potential. It’s a tool that, like all aspects of life, must be mastered in order to release its full potential- and THAT is an area in which I certainly can improve. Fortunately, between CNJ595, CNJ216 and even CVJ341, my class schedule this semester is going to explode with blogs and tweets and whatnot. Finally, a chance to get a grip on it all.

Still, I’m not yet sure exactly what role I will play in this new web of connectivity. I’m still searching for my niche; hopefully, this semester will help me to find it.

For now, though, I’m going to continue to explore, to write, and to share.

All whilst remaining very much alive, living in reality.