We have made it to one of the most important days in the American civic calendar. Probably the most important day, in fact. We get to choose.
In America, we get so much choice that we have become inured to it. We can choose our food, our friends, our professions, our possessions. We can choose to do right or to do wrong; we can choose to endure or enjoy the consequences of our choices.
I spent a short time living abroad in places where the ability to choose was not so easy to come by, so I’m a little more aware of the luxury of choice than I was when I was younger. It amazes me that we can have so much when others have so little.
This blog is about social media, as readers know, so I have to bring the topic back there. And this is one of those days where what’s happening in the world outside my office window intersects with the content on the blog. Social media embody the luxury of choice. All the concepts we’ve been discussing in class, from time value to conversation, from network theory to channels, come back to the idea that the individual can (sometimes should) choose from all the options available to him or her. The concepts we cover are embedded in the underlying assumption that there are options to choose from–something that we Americans often take for granted in our land of plenty. These concepts are based on further assumptions: that the individual acts as an individual; that the options all have consequences, though some are more significant than others; and that many of the options aren’t mutually exclusive.
Furthermore, social media rely on the fact that different people make different choices, and that individuals will choose to connect with like-minded others while coexisting, in various levels of comfort, with unlike-minded others.
And while social media seem to prize individual choice, their real value lies in the way they transform individual choices into communities of influence.
What a tribute to our messy, flawed, awkward, conflicted, wonderful democracy.