Yesterday over lunch with a dear old friend, Achintya (a member of the Triratna Buddhist Community), amongst our many conversation topics was social media. To be sure, this is an exciting an often confusing aspect of our lives today. Buddhists sometimes worry that sites like facebook are nothing more than a feeding tube of ignorance, greed/addiction, and aversion. Twitter (I’m on here) can seem even worse, as saying something meaningful in 140 characters seems a bit absurd. And this trending thing, I’ve never really understood (today’s top 5):
Professor Jeremy Littau is already planning on requiring all his Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., students to sign up for Google+ this Fall. He wrote about the possibilities on his blog.
“As a teaching tool, [Google+] intrigues me. I’m already planning on holding Hangout office hours this fall for students, where they can get on and ask questions about class material. And because it’s multi-user, others can hang out in the lounge and listen. Sometimes I go over the same stuff with multiple students in multiple meetings; this could streamline that process,” said Littau…
“Yea,” he said, “But it’s like a dinner party you can never leave.”
Of course we can opt out of all of it, exile ourselves to some distant corner of the social media net – perhaps perfectly content with our flesh-and-blood social network. This day and age that seems ever more difficult though, with so many of us traveling far and wide and the ease of electronic communication. So opting out completely seems to be a bit extreme.
On the other hand we can ‘get lost’ in the sheer mass of online communication. Trying to keep up with a thousand twitter-streams and hundreds of facebook updates is exhausting. Heck, just staying on top of my email is a chore sometimes! So finding limits is also important. Learning how to manipulate your social media to your needs is well worth the time invested. This online network can be extremely informative and helpful, even if it takes us a while to figure it out.
Or, what’s that old saying, “Spare the Bieber, spoil the Buddha?”