I was 11 years old when communism ended in my home country, and I know what it feels like living in complete darkness.
Even though my relationship with social media can be described as limited, I am thankful it exists, since I feel it opens up the world. It gives people the opportunity to connect with others from all over the world and provides access to an incredible amount of information.
Between 1980 -1989, T.V. time in Romania was limited to two hours per weekday and 4-5 hours during the weekend including high political content programmes. The highlight of media were the Brazilian soap opera: Escrava Isaura and Dallas. The great thing about that was that we were able to hear foreign languages which was music to our ears and a breath of “fresh air”.
When we compare that time with today’s abundance of social media, the lack of privacy seems to be present, just the format has changed. Having the secret police listen to all the phone conversations forced people to more frequent face to face communication. People were constantly in fear of what to say and how to say it. Even today, on social media, you have to be extremely careful since nothing is forgotten just as it is described in the (Digital) Identity in a World that No Longer Forgets.
Living in such darkness for a long time, after the end of communism, we needed time to wrap our heads around technology. It took a much longer time for technology and social media to get to our homes mostly because the majority of people could not afford devices. If a friend managed to purchase a VCR, big crowds were spending Friday nights watching Dirty Dancing.
Beside the Internet Café, where in the unbearable smoke, people were trying to catch up with their Yahoo accounts, MSN messaging was also a hit.
Fast forward to 2002. I found myself living in Regina which was the loneliest time in my whole entire life until 2008, when my parents bought their first laptop, which made Skyping possible. Even today, I am thankful for Skype. I think everyone who has family living far would agree with me. When I get to see my Mom and Dad who live several thousand kilometers away daily, if I wish, is pretty amazing.
In my very limited social media world, Facebook is another great tool to keep in touch with old friends. I have definitely noticed that it is starting to become a bragging site. Beside Facebook, YouTube is present in my everyday life. It has affected both my personal and professional life in positive ways. I agree with Matteo who described YouTube in his blog as a “hub of education”. I absolutely love TED talks, finding information regarding teaching English, recipes, workouts, sky is the limit.
Thankfully the Masters’ Certificate Program in Educational Technology is helping me move out of the unknown. I was literally afraid of technology and social media, when I pushed myself into this program. Since my EC&I 834, I have my twitter account. I like twitter for its opportunities to connect with professionals from around the world. I also feel it is the most overwhelming and demanding social media tool in my life. It is very fast, always giving me the feeling that I cannot keep up. I think social media can be used very effectively if taught how to use it the right way and I am very thankful for having my Prof. Alec Couros and my peers guiding me on my journey.
I loved your insight regarding privacy when you lived under the rule of communism. The idea that you were always watched must have been quite nerve wracking. I guess with our present connectivity and the endless erosion of our private information in this supposed “free world”, we are in a similar situation. Instead of a government and secret police tracking our every move, we have giant corporations doing the same things and exploiting us and our information. Thanks for your perspective!
Thanks for sharing your perspective. It is definitely a unique one that most of us haven’t experienced. Your secret police reference really made me stop and think how different is what is happening now with social media. Also how propaganda is spread. Skype is a game changer as I remember my dad trying to phone back to former Yugoslavia and how hard it was to connect and also wondering who might be listening in on him talking to his family. I agree that social media has tremendous potential but requires a commitment to understand how to use it as a powerful tool and how to grow with it. Hope you ‘had the time of your life’ (that my attempt at Dirty Dancing reference :-))