Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Reevaluating Social Networking for Genealogists

Social networking has become ubiquitous in our society. According to the Pew Research Center, Social Media Usage: 2005-2015:
Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites, up from 7% when Pew Research Center began systematically tracking social media usage in 2005. Pew Research reports have documented in great detail how the rise of social media has affected such things as work, politics and political deliberation, communications patterns around the globe, as well as the way people get and share information about health, civic life, news consumption, communities, teenage life, parenting, dating and even people’s level of stress.
Genealogists, of course, have been swept along in this surge of usage. Worldwide, it is reported that there are 1.65 billion monthly active Facebook users. See "The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics - Updated May 2016." This is a 15% increase year over year.

I have a few serious concerns about the relationship between the social networking world and genealogy. For some time now, social networking has been touted as an important adjunct to maintaining family relationships and advancing genealogical interests. Over the past year or so, I have noted a decided decline in blog posts and concomitant increase is social networking usage, primarily Instagram. I decided to review my list of subscribed blogs for some further indication of a shift away from blogs into shorter, more superficial posts on other social networking outlets.

I currently subscribe to close to 300 blogs. However, it is clearly evident to me that the "commercial" or new sponsored blogs are the only ones now regularly posting. There are a few "regulars" who consistently post day after day and provide a valuable backdrop to the entire genealogical community. What was extremely evident was that the majority of the "genealogy" blogs on my list had stopped posting. Hmm. So the question was, had my list gone out of date or was there really a decided trend?

In my own family, there has been a movement away from Facebook for a number of reasons, and a decided movement to using Instagram.

Most of what I have to say about genealogy involves a lot of words. None of the so-called social networking websites is suitable for extended reflection and discourse. For the time being, I still feel that writing a blog is helpful to me (and perhaps others) as a way to air issues and organize information.

I have seen most of the social networking websites move heavily into commercialization and saturation advertising. I also find much of what is passed around on social networking website personally offensive. It seems to be harder to separate the good and useful content, when it is there at all, from the viral videos and off-the-wall posts that seem to be so prevalent.

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