The story of the unsocial academic and social media …

It appears as though the digital media revolution has not only changed the way in which we consume media, but also the way in which we fundamentally reach out to each other in both personal and professional contexts.

Like most industries, the higher education landscape is no exception when it comes to pressures in succumbing to, and embracing social media platforms to get ones academic ‘word’ out there … though is this as straightforward as one would hope or expect? Well that, I’m afraid, is largely down to ones own social capabilities in the non virtual world.

If you are socially shy or awkward, unfortunately, social media will merely extend the anxiety. You will be plagued by questions like, what to write? How will this look? How will I look? Will I be judged on my use of colloquial slip ups and grammar mistakes? Or worst still, ideologies? – after all, lets face it! – where as the one awkward face to face event may only expose you to a handful of people that you may never see again, your social media message may reach 100s depending on those all important ‘shares’ and ‘likes’.

As one, such anxious academic embarking on this journey of digital identity and meaningful discourse (in 140 characters or less if using twitter) – I have found that as all ‘unknown’ scenarios, the fear that this initially brought was mostly in my head. I’m no social media pro, and certainly with no profoundly meaningful discourse that I’m quite ready to throw out there, just yet! 😉 – but as far as small steps go, a work orientated twitter account and a sporadic attempt at blogging hasn’t been as terrifying as I once assumed it may. Better still, I have found the process cathartic – taking away the loneliness of being a part time research student.

It wasn’t until recently, that I realised, just how lonely part time study can be. Social media on my terms has allowed me to forge virtual networks with controlled engagement. I choose just how much I put in and when – much more do-able than having to deal with a parallel non virtual scenario. Even better, with controlled privacy options on most accounts, I can choose what’s shared with broader audiences and when.

Based on my limited but positive experiences, I may even go as far as arguing that social media is the perfect tool for the not so social academic.