Milne Essay

Jenny Milne
Issues in Professional and Public Discourse
Essay One

Knowledge Management, Managing Yourself?

In this day and age, the internet is incorporated in every aspect of our lives and it affects how our relationships work and how we present ourselves. Rather then calling a friend, family member, or significant other, we rely on email, Facebook, Skype, Myspace, Twitter, or AIM to keep in touch. These online sources have developed a new sense of self, and how we relate to others. As a result of these websites, as a society, we have begun to manage ourselves, as if we are a commodity.

Celebrities have magazines devoted to reporting any and all sorts of information about them. The print pictures, momentous occasions in their lives, and scandals. Now, with websites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, we have become comparable to celebrities. The main difference is, that for the most part, we can control what is present about us on these sites. We can control who sees our information, what pictures remain of us, and what is said about us on our "page". Through these websites, everyone is a celebrity. If you are on Twitter, you literally have followers. Friends, family members, strangers that follow your every update, that always read your opinions, what you say matters to them. On Facebook, people post pictures they take of you. Like celebrities being hounded by paparazzi. These websites create a feeling of importance. Our information is relevant to others. Through these websites we have started to manage ourselves, and how we present our own information.

Knowledge Management does not limit itself to only information based cites. There is more knowledge management occurring on social networking cites because it is ideal to present personal information. The site then creates an opportunity to create a profile for yourself. You can make it a direct representation of yourself, or you can edit and tweak the profile until it is how you want to be perceived. Each person is in control of their image, which has now become a commodity, although it is not necessarily paid for, others want to look at the information, and learn more. When the information is updated, or changed, other's pause updating their information to view what has been changed on your profile. Everyone cares what you have to say. This phenomenon has also changed how we view ourselves, and our self-worth, as compared to others. We have begun to define ourselves by what we can put on a profile page. These facts include interests, activities, music that you listen to, books you've read, and movies you enjoy. There is also a place for quotes, and a tiny blurb about yourself. However, these are rarely read, unless you just "friended" someone, or there was an update on your newsfeed saying they changed their information. The most commonly utilized method of expression on Facebook is the status update.

A status update is a "160-character message that users post in response to the question, "What's on your mind?," (Griggs). The status update is probably one of the more commonly changed and updated aspect of Facebook. This is one of the reasons Twitter was developed. Twitter is comprised of only the status update, it does not have the other aspects of the profile and interaction that Facebook and Myspace have. An article was recently published on CNN called "The 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers," by Brandon Griggs. While this article generalizes things, it contains an overall true feel of what status updates are like. I'm sure if you were to get on your Facebook right now, you would be able to find, on your newsfeed, one of each of these types of status updaters. The type ranges from the "Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore," who will tell you what they are currently eating for breakfast, to the "Town Crier," who will let you know that Michael Jackson has died and that they were the first, besides Mr. Jackson, to know this fact. While my favorite of the twelve types of people is the "Sympathy Baiter," who will hint that something is wrong, but wants you to ask for the details, I'm sure these types of Facebookers were not developed because of Facebook. We all know people who act similar to this in reality, however technology has allowed them to post their information online to reach that many more people.

Among the information that can be managed on your profile, there is a relationship status. Therefore, to conclude, not only are we managing ourselves, and our own image and information, we are managing our relationships as well. Because of this status, which includes the options of single, in a relationship, engaged, married, in an open relationship, and it's complicated; we are learning to define our relationship with someone by these terms. However, how much do these technologies truly affect our relationship? By relationship, I do not necessarily mean a romantic one. This could apply to any relationship, whether with family or friends.

Through the use of this technology, we have found new ways to manage our relationship, and what others know about that relationship. Now, not only can you inform people that you are indeed seeing someone, you can let them know how serious it is by what level you choose on your relationship status. It is possible to post pictures from your dates on Facebook, and use your 160 character status to inform others about the status of your relationship. However the downside is, that also, if you break up, or things go wrong, as soon as you change your relationship status, all 450 of your friends know that you and your significant other broke up, or got into a fight. With the public gaining this knowledge, from your profile, is your relationship affected? Considering how difficult it is to be in a relationship to begin with, it would not make sense for others to know about private matters between the two of you, however these websites have changed our sense of privacy and how we manage information about ourselves.

The other aspect of knowledge management to be considered is the degree to which information sharing websites are affecting how we communicate in our relationships. Until recently, calling, mail, and email were the typical way to correspond with one another. However with the addition of social networking sites, this has changed. Typically when contacting someone, many of us use the easiest method. For friends, it's a Facebook message, for parents its an email, for a significant other, its a text. It is easier to manage and catagorize by importance, using these methods. However, it is clear to others how important to you they are. In reality, we do manage our relationships by level of importance, it is just blatantly clear online. Is this a negative aspect of knowledge management?

I've found that the way we view ourselves has been changed by the social networking sites that we use. However, as a result, we manage other aspects of our lives as well. This includes relationships. Our different idea of what privacy means allows us to share everything, while still maintaining a sense of protection, which could possibly be false. In the end, these websites are incorporated into our lives, and it is difficult to imagine not using them. My opinion is that we should increase how much we manage ourselves and the information that we share with others. This would affect our relationships in a positive way. I will be expanding on some of these ideas for my portion of the collaborative essay. I will be including some points I made about the idea of self-management, and include my opinions on what I believe is dangerous knowledge.

Works Cited

Griggs, Brandon. "The 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers." CNN 25 August, 2009: 1. Web. 13 Oct 2009. <http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/08/20/annoying.facebook.updaters/index.html>.

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