Thoughts: On the function of Social Media

Recently, the whole controversy of Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked pictures has made me think of the function of social media and my relationship to it. Although this piece isn’t necessarily about the ramifications and the changes that will occur due to what happened to a celebrity, it is about me trying to figure out why the heck we even consider posting things on the internet.

What does it all mean?

I don’t have an answer. Just thoughts. Scattered thoughts that are akin to all the click bait that  

As an occasional blogger, I feel that it is somewhat of a responsibility to keep on writing and exploring ideas. It’s a travesty to sit around and call yourself a writer if all you do is munch chips while you lounge on your couch.

Being a writer requires that you are always on your toes . . . and on your ass in a chair hunching over, typing away until you reach the sweet spot. 

 

 

This is no different from the position that I was elected to recently: Social Media Manager. Last spring I was elected as the Social Media Manager for the Olivetree Review, the literary arts magazine at Hunter College. Whether this is an admission of pride or just good fortune is up to the reader to decide. What can be said is that understanding social media is tough.

It’s an open field where discussion is the field of play. To put it bluntly, you’re either a troll or a whiney millennial. It’s a playground where George Mead would observe children at their play stage.

I remember being interviewed and being asked for ideas on what ideas I had to ensure solidarity. I pulled answers from the top of my head that made sense in the media world. 

“What are some of your ideas?”

I want to find content that is interesting.

“What can you provide for the staff?”

I want to contribute and help oil the wheels.

Is this me being sarcastic? Absolutely not. I mean every word and dictate every response. That is what an honest person does: gives what he or she can offer.  

Fast forward to when I received the position, my mind ruminated with a number of ideas. While I don’t look for lewd pictures of celebrities to spread all over the internet, I try to at least think like an internet reader. 

Like any good doer, I made a list of ideas in my notebook for this position.

A question of the day. Are you a poet or are you a novelist? Here is a chapter of an cut chapter from this book. 

Half of them I have already used and the other half are on the floor in the cutting room. My expectations of having an endless well of ideas to revel in parched up before I could even take another sip.

Which has led me to the question: What is the function of social media? 

Am I to generate readership to a magazine that is published once a semester? (One that is filled with great art, poems, and prose writing?) How am I to gain an audience or generate activity if no one is reading work that hasn’t been published yet?

Seeing that activity is what is needed to be generated (as along with views per day), the biggest challenge is finding interesting content until the wait is over. 

The challenge is trying to keep any reader thirsty while they wait for something promising to arrive. 

 

One of the first steps was I went to the previous Social Media Manager for some ideas. For privacy purposes, I will omit his name. We have been recently acquainted due to are frequent interactions during the semester. I first met him when I was trying to find someone to speak to about joining the OTR. I shook his hand not knowing I would ever see again. That was the case until my last class that day, a nonfiction workshop class where we both participated in bearing our soul to the class through memoir writing. 

Needless to say, he was the person to reassure me that “Everything will be alright.” He added: “I had a lot of ideas, but the reality of actually running things is that your ideas and what you want to do have be accounted with the constraint of time.”

It’s good to know that I wasn’t the only one with that challenge. 

Finding content was the game. Exploring ideas and places would be the catalyst.

I checked out the Olivetree Review page, the one that I would manage in the next semester, to study some content that had been published in the past. A lot of the content looked like the sort of things that I would like to ready. 

But would anyone else like to read it as well? 

This is seen under the published post which reads: “This post has reached 100 people.”

Reaching 100 people is a good goal I thought. 

So I looked up one of the most read publications in the nation, or New York to be more fair. The New York Times. 

The Times didn’t disappoint. However, it made me think: is the fact that “this” or “that” article on the NYTimes what makes content worthy? What prestige does this article have over one on another site.

I quickly closed the webpage and went to the next step: Google.

“Cool literary Stuff.” I clicked enter. 

Like a good meal that takes time to cook, the results didn’t disappoint. There were many articles and pages that boasted one liners. My finger itself itched to click on some content to check it out. The ceremoniously essential “20 list of literary somethings” on BuzzFeed; the inspirational list of literary things on Pinterest; the staple “ten books you should read before you die.”

Lists on lists that continue on battling for supremacy. I copied and pasted a few sites to be referenced in the future. To be honest, I wanted to just write the lists myself. 

 

 

The first post I did publish was instructed by the President of the OTR himself. I was instructed to condense a message written by a representative of a volunteer organization that endorses the after-school program for kids in elementary. It reached 94 people. 

This was the highest I had ever reached in reaching people. Every thing else became less read.

The next post, “A list of to-reads,” reached 44 views. 

The next post, a blurb for an open mic, 20 views.

The next, pictures of writers, 34 views. 

 

You might me reading this and wondering “What the hell is this kid even mean?”

Like I said, this wasn’t supposed to be about Jennifer Lawrence.