Do We “Need” Social Media?

While researching the Essena O’Neill saga, I came across this video on YouTube.

It makes some really salient points about the benefits of social media, which can be carried across to (and arguably, amplified within) private social networks.

Social networks open us up to new ideas and new points of view. Facebook, Twitter and other large social networks are like taking an undergraduate class; lots of perspectives and ideas, from lots of people, all in the same space, figuring out what they think about things and finding what they love. Private social networks are like a PhD, or a masterclass: a smaller group, really refining their ideas and beliefs.

Starting up a private social network where people can gather around a shared experience or something they all really care about creates a space for learning and growth; it removes the superficiality that pervades mass social media and networking sites from the proliferation of perspectives and ideas which can make social networking so valuable. For example: if you create a Facebook page or group for discussions of transfeminist issues, you are likely to get some homophobic, misogynist and transphobic people slipping through the cracks and dominating discussion. If you create a private social network, it’s a focused, safe space which could ultimately build similar numbers and achieve the same things.

In essence: while we could certainly live without social media, our intellectual and emotional lives can absolutely be enriched by it, in a variety of ways. Private social networks create yet another, more dedicated space where that enrichment can take place.

Why Everyone Should Learn to Code

Learning to code is like learning to speak another language; you have to learn a whole lot of new “words” and phrases, and if you get just one word or letter wrong, the person (website) you’re talking to might have no idea what you’re trying to say. Many people prefer to outsource coding work, or use plugins that allow them to do really cool things without needing to write a single line; even if that’s you, it’s worth knowing the basics so you can spot if something’s wrong, or make small tweaks if you need to. If supermodel Karlie Kloss can learn to code between international flights, fashion shows and photoshoots, you can fit some basic coding lessons around your busy life too.

code

It turns you from a consumer into a producer.

If you can’t code, you’re always buying someone else’s project or time; if you can, then you’re either building and selling entirely original content, or taking bits and pieces from other people and incorporating them into your own creation to make it better (like building your own house, and getting furniture from someone else to add colour and variety to your creation). It’s a guarantee that you’re going to stand out.

It allows you to fix – or at least patch – problems right away.

Rather than spending long hours waiting for the person who developed or maintains your website to come to your aid, knowing how to code allows you to fix the problem yourself – or at the very least, patch it so that your customers and visitors aren’t at risk of malware or suffering serious glitches during that time. The amount of money an online shop might lose just by being down for a few hours in a busy period could be staggering. You might not get to a point where you can perform major surgery on your website, but you can learn how to tie a pretty damned great bandage.

You can make sure that your project matches YOUR vision.

Trying to get another person to see the picture in your head is an incredibly different thing; even if you and your developer/designer are totally simpatico, they’re not always going to get things the way you want them. Knowing how to write your own child themes or even make small tweaks to someone else’s design will make it that much easier for you to transform your design dreams into reality.