Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm Not a Social Media Bigot

Column Notes: This is a follow up column I decided to do after receiving some wild responses to the previous week's. There's another response in the comments section on the paper's website to this one that makes one wonder if people actually read an entire column before composing a comment.

Harbeson: In Other Words

>>SOUTHERN INDIANA — Last week’s column caused some readers to think I am somehow against social media. Upon reflection, I have to agree that the headline sure made it sound like that could be the case.

I rarely write my headlines because I enjoy the suspense of seeing what the newspaper staff will create. Plus, I don’t want to hog all the fun. So I didn’t write it, but I certainly take responsibility for the result.

I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to insert a provocative wordplay that popped into my head. I figured the newspaper staff wouldn’t be able to pass it up either, so it’s my fault if the headline overshadowed my actual points.

But now that I’ve been accused of having discriminatory feelings about social media, I feel I must respond. I am not a social media bigot. Heck some of my best friends are in social media. I think I even dated a social media proponent once.

If I was truly full of hate against social media as a form of communication I certainly would not have helped Mr. Crum promote the voluntary private side of his business by mentioning localshoutouts.com. Oops, I did it again.

Which reminds me — did you know that Britney Spears has more than 4.6 million Twitter followers!? (Oh, sorry, my attention span seems smaller lately.)

Someone also suggested that if I don’t think the city of Jeffersonville should use government funds to learn about social media then I should get out there and help the city myself. So I’ve decided to share the most valuable thing I’ve learned this past week about effective communication:

To grab the attention of a populace bombarded with information 24 hours a day, word choice is vital. Therefore, to hook your audience, I highly recommend including the word “socialist” in your message. It definitely grabs attention and should be easy for a government entity to do.

At least I think it would be easy. But I might be wrong because another result of last week’s column is that I’ve been accused of being ignorant about socialism. Some say I have no idea what socialism means. They are absolutely right.

The term has stumped me for a long time because people define it and use it in so many different ways. But this is very common with abstract political concepts created by humans.

Socialism seems to be one of the most hotly debated topics ever. Many books and articles have been written about the theory and ideas contained within socialism since the early 1800s. We’re talking billions, maybe even trillions of words.

Why, there have probably been more words written in reference to socialism than dollars spent by the federal government to bail out failing businesses. You know, companies that used to privately own and control their means of production and distribution.

So, yeah, I’m pretty darn confused about socialism.

The funny thing about socialism is that in its original theoretical essence, all of us would agree that it’s a fine thing to do, as far as people voluntarily working toward a common goal. But good ideas like this get all jumbled when people start using force as a means to the end.

So that’s where I prefer to focus my energies. It doesn’t matter to me whether something is labeled socialism, capitalism, anarchism, or whateverism — what matters is whether one individual or a group of individuals is initiating force on others in order to get what they want.

I’ve found that when I think about human behavior this way, abstract political theory becomes much simpler and for a simple-minded person like me, it works well.

SIGLINE: Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson never hogs all the fun because it’s more fun when others are in the slop with her.

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