We never know who we might learn from as we begin to network through social media, or “build” a personal learning network (PLN). “Building” implies a very intentional endeavour to me and I recognize the value in that. But using and participating in social media often brings unexpected connections and learning. It can also feel very messy and confusing, especially as we enter these spaces and interactions initially. It is easy to forget our own first experiences as we become more used to the “language” and subtle norms of social media, Twitter in particular. I am always thankful for reminders from people who have taken the step in more recently. I suspect that “newbies” don’t always articulate publicly how it can seem for them. This is why I appreciated a recent blog post by Vivian (@ChezVivian). I recently “met” Vivian in comments on a blog post, and from there we have interacted and conversed on Twitter. I know we can get excited about the connections we make, but Vivian’s post about social media rock stars gives good insight into how someone new to using social media might feel as they try to make sense of the experience:
There are some Social Media Rockstars that have a positive impact on me. They are the Social Media Rockstars that blog (even tweet) out of their vulnerabilities and share them openly. They are not Rockstars (though they might also have thousands of followers). They are the ROCK. They are the bedrock and the foundation of all that our PLNs are trying to accomplish. Upon their lessons, we can attempt to build something lasting upon. The “Rocks” prop me and others up. They tell us that we’re OK despite our weaknesses because they openly share their weaknesses. They inspire us to overcome our challenges, just as they are openly working towards overcoming theirs. Their transparency invites me to dialogue back as I don’t feel like an inferior wanna-be in front of them. To those “Rocks” in my PLN, I extend my gratitude and deepest heart-felt thanks and I know I speak for many other people.
Like Vivian, I didn’t expect to use social media to be a rock star or find rock stars, but I do think that over time we all find a network with a few of our own “rocks”. Vivian’s post ends with, “I won’t be your Social Media Rockstar. I don’t even want to be. I promise that I’ll be your Social Media Rock, though.”
So while there may or may not be social media rock stars, I think each of us benefit by having up a few good “rocks” along the way…