Day 2: SXSWi on Saturday

I just got out of an awesome panel and I’m surprised by how I feel. I’m frustrated. Like, very frustrated.

It was a core conversation with Cathy Brooks and Ellen McGirt, the latter is a senior writer at Fast Company. Both women were witty, relevant and enthusiastic. The conversation focused on identity and self-narrative within social media. We had insightful people in the room and people really participated. On the one hand, it was wonderful to share thoughts and common issues with people who understand. I joked afterwards that it was essentially a Social Media Anonymous meeting– all of us finding the support we are looking for in those around us. The only issue is that every single question we asked was virtually unanswerable.

Now I’m all for theoretical knowledge and animated intellectual debates, but this was just frustrating for me. I understand why we’re having this conversation here. The people at this conference are the ones who have –and will– shape the media itself and how we use it. It’s important that we ask ourselves these questions. Questions like: what are the rules for managing our multiple selves on multiple platforms–can we be exclusive? Can there be a work you and a personal you that do not exist in your reader’s mind simultaneously? For a writer, does your online, personal voice weaken your authority as your brand’s voice? The last one was my biggest question.

The issue is that we can’t answer these questions. I don’t think we can ever answer these questions because it’s on an individual basis and these are issues that will evolve as social media tools evolve.

As I continue thinking about that panel, one thing does strike me as interesting. One man started talking about how Millennials and younger use new media. He was saying that he worries that we are completely unaware of how marketers are using data collected through our social networking to sell us things. The concern of Millennials/young adults/teens sharing too much information came up too. Part of my frustration may stem from the fact that the conversation is often about Millennials, but rarely with Millennials.

And that may be our fault.

I know the reason that SXSWi skews older– passes are damn expensive and if you’re lucky enough to have work pay for it, they’ll probably send someone more valuable than the new kid. Makes sense. I’m feeling very fortunant that I get this chance. I guess I would just like to feel like we could have more of a voice in some of these sessions. Especially since tech moves quickly and soon these issues will be ours to a further extent than right now.

Anyways, this post was a stream of consciousness. My frustration may just be that it’s almost 2 and I haven’t eaten. The bottom line is that these questions (and that SXSWi session in particular) are ultimately good. We just need to find a way to turn these endless questions into more than a dialogue.

And on with SXSWi I go…


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