The social media did not exist when I practiced law through 2001.
Now, of course, they do.
Several years ago I took the first step into these waters when I joined Facebook. I did so primarily to discover what it was all about and to try to keep up with my grandchildren as they were starting to approach their teenager years. But I did not do much with it.
Another step was taken in April 2011 when I started this blog, which at least for some people qualifies as a member of the social media. I did so “in order to share my experiences and expertise in certain areas of U.S. and international law, my concerns as a liberal or progressive Democrat about weaknesses in the U.S. governmental system and my renewed and progressive Christian faith. Such sharing and advocacy I see as part of my responsibilities as a U.S. and world citizen and as a progressive Christian.” I then set up the WordPress Dashboard for my blog to send automatic notifications of new blog posts to my Facebook Friends.
I initially dismissed thoughts of using other social media. Twitter, I thought, was silly and trivial and of no use to me. I rejected requests to connect with others on Linkedin because I thought it was only for professionals, and I was a former (retired) professional.
These thoughts about other social media started to change at a recent full-day workshop on the social media and blogging at the San Miguel Writers‘ Conference. Our instructor, Nina Amir, emphasized that writers of fiction and non-fiction books should promote their books on the social media. In the process I discovered that at least two of the authors who were keynote speakers at the Conference had their own personal websites: Lawrence Hill, about whom I have written blog posts, and Luis Urrea. Although probably not included in social media, these websites are means of self-promotion for an individual.
But I am not a writer of fiction and non-fiction books and do not need to, or want to, have a personal website. I am a blogger. Amir, however, helped me see that the social media can be, and should be, used by bloggers to promote their blogs, which might some day become books.
As a result, soon after the workshop, I registered for Linkedin and developed my profile. Initially I described myself as a “Human Rights Advocate.” I soon realized that was not a fair description because “advocate” for me implies I am representing someone else in some kind of dispute, and I no longer do that after my retirement as a lawyer in 2001. As a result, I changed my Linkedin identity to the more accurate “Legal & Political Commentator.”
I then started a search for Linkedin “connections.” As my requests for connection were accepted, I began “trolling” for additional ones by reading through my new connections own lists of connections and identifying others I knew and asking them to be connected with me. I also set up my WordPress Dashboard for my blog to make automatic notifications of new blog posts to my Linkedin connections.
Once I am comfortable with Linkedin, I will consider whether to create and use a Twitter account.
Another member of the social media–tumblr.com–was much lower on my priority list for evaluation, but I serendipitously tumbled into the site. A new “connection” on Linkedin was now in Spain for a year, and I sent her a message asking if she had created a blog about her experiences in that country. She had, and it is on tumblr.com: http://300daysingalacia.tumblr.com. In order to check it out I created a tumblr account, and at some point, I will explore tumblr in greater depth.
During the workshop, I observed to the group that in today’s uncertain economy, everyone at least in the U.S., if not the entire world, should be adopting a similar strategy for use of the social media to promote themselves. No one really knows if his or her current position is secure, and one should always be maximizing the possibilities of finding another position if the need or desire arises and expanding your circles or networks of influence and assistance.
I always have been concerned about the loss of privacy associated with social media. This issue recently was highlighted in a New York Times article about Facebook’s new search engine. The author said it has “the ferocious analytical horsepower of Google [that is] applied to Facebook’s data: your pictures; likes and dislikes; when and where you were born; where you were educated; where you work; your religion, sexual orientation and political views — though the engine searches only those things that you have chosen to make public (or, more to the point with Facebook, neglected to make private).” The article concluded that this new search engine “decisively shifts the burden of privacy onto you. It is now your duty to opt out of being discovered.”
This septuagenarian (an individual in his or her 70’s) surprisingly is engaged with the social media.