#PastForward Recap: Social Media

Days of good sessions and good conversations at the National Preservation Conference left me with too many thoughts and take-aways for one post. And, I’d like to continue conversations that we started at the conference. Rather than overwhelm all of us, I’ll take it one post and one conversation at a time. Interested? Read on, and join in for the comments, whether you attended the conference or not.

Mr. Stilts is all over the #thisplacematters flag!

Mr. Stilts is all over the #thisplacematters flag!

Let’s talk social media!

The recent social media buzz are decries of “social media isn’t real life!” “avoid social media!” “be present!” and many more proclamations about the negative impacts it has on society. And, of course, it has some merit. Social media shouldn’t overwhelm or control your whole life. Your worth does not depend on social media. Stop spending so much time in front of a screen (say the critics to a country where most people work with computers). Stop documenting everything or posting your life to Instagram. And on and on.

Rather than the negative, let’s focus on the positive. Last week at Past Forward at the Emerging Professionals session we talked about how social media is helping our organizations. Many of us met each other in real life (“IRL”) for the first time after years of being online social media preservation friends. And those of us who know each other already might only catch up IRL at the annual conference, but we keep in touch throughout the year as friends and colleagues. Our professional (and friendship) networks have increased exponentially because of the power of the internet and social media platforms. And, our preservation message is so much easier to spread. Our time and money are used much more efficiently.

What’s your example of positive connections via social media? As for me, my network wouldn’t be what it is without blogging and other platforms. Other than blogging, Instagram is my favorite.

Why Instagram? I love documentation. I love documenting the fun, happy moments of life in order to create a collage of memories. Sometimes I scroll through my own Instagram to look back over the last few years. And I like seeing what my friends are snapping – what are they storing in their Instagram collages. It’s fun. And an image triggers memories of a day, a trip, a quiet morning at home, holidays, friends, family – whatever it might be. (Now if only Instagram would add the day rather than “weeks ago”). I do keep more than one Instagram account – one public account for Preservation in Pink purposes and one private account for friends and family with just a handful of followers. It’s a good system for me.

Such “snapshot” platforms aren’t good for all. The teen who quit Instagram shows the dark side of imagery and a staged life, and the harm it can take on one’s self-worth. And it’s true, comparison is the thief of joy. It can be easy to get sucked in to the snapshot comparison – who has a better job, a better house, a better city, a better social life? We’re only human! I know. I quit Facebook almost two years ago for many reasons including because I spent too much time aimlessly scrolling, comparing, and feeling as though my life was on exhibit. I haven’t looked back. However, I know some people love it and some businesses thrive because of Facebook.

Social media: it depends on how you use it and for what purpose. There are definite lines between the good of social media and the bad. Hopefully we all have learned or have someone to help us learn.

#thisplacematters. Who doesn't love a good hashtag?

#thisplacematters. Who doesn’t love a good hashtag?

Many preservation groups connect with new audiences because of social media and that makes preservation a more relatable and tangible field. A friendlier field, if you will. Imagery is powerful and graphic based platforms and websites can draw in new readers, supporters, and preservationists. And with that, I whole-heartedly say that it is a great time to be a preservationist.

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think?
  • Do you use social for work or personal or both?
  • Is social media better for one or the other?
  • Have you dropped a particular platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and why?

Other #PastForward Recaps: Emerging Professionals. More to come next week!

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10 thoughts on “#PastForward Recap: Social Media

  1. Raina Regan says:

    I’ll jump in! I just social media for primarily personal, but it’s a blend of my work thrown in. I think most preservationists consider being in the preservation field not just a “job” but part of their identity, so I think social media of preservationists are reflected in the types of things we post. We just don’t post about work projects. We post about our favorite places.

    I know my professional network has grown exponentially because of instagram and twitter. I think the key is taking those relationships offline and building true friends and colleagues!

    I haven’t taken the de-Facebook plunge, as much as I’d like to, because I do use it for work related reasons. A lot of local preservation groups I’m involved with have Facebook pages and they are an excellent source of information for my job.

      • Raina Regan says:

        Also excuse my typo… “just” was supposed to be “use”! An example of where my hands type faster than my brain…

        As for instagram, I’ve gotten in the trap of feeling very self conscious about what I post… it can sometimes seem silly, but when I get too obsessed or stressed about it I normally take that as a sign to “check” myself.

        A very good instagram friend of mine takes social media breaks twice a year… for weeks at a time. She’ll go 8-12 weeks without even logging into instagram. She says it helps with her creativity and mental balance! I don’t know if I could do that… but I think it works for her. (She does sneak by using other apps like Phhhoto and Snapchat)

        • Kaitlin says:

          Raina, have you felt self-conscious because of your instagram fame, self-induced pressured, or other? I don’t think I could take such a long social media break!

  2. Deb at The Front Door Project says:

    I love social media (clearly!) for all the reasons you mention. Where else could I find SO many people who want to look at my photos? It makes my hobby more interesting and fun to share what I have found and to know that people enjoy it and appreciate, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way. I think if I were just taking snaps for myself I would have stopped a long time ago 🙂

    I also think it’s a great platform for historic preservation advocacy. A picture really IS worth a thousand words! I know through my Instagram I have created awareness and appreciation in many other people, and have even inspired a few.

    So yes…don’t let it rule you! But share away!

  3. chad says:

    It’s like anything else that can become abusive. Moderation is good. Without Facebook I doubt that anyone would have cared about the loss of two significant historic properties in Atlanta–Gaines Hall of Morris Brown College and Ft. McPherson. It allowed me to make hundreds of people aware of what our mayor was doing to these properties, and, I would like to think saved Gaines Hall. It is an incredibly powerful tool to hold people in power accountable and expose them to the light. (FYI: “Save Gaines Hall” and “Save Fort McPherson History.”) My personal FB page was becoming, in effect, a soap box for my advocacy for visionary city planning so I created this page as well: “ATL Vision.”

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