“Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion.” – Madonna

Maybe the most fitting quotation for asking “why blog” is the comment above from Madonna because, really, why spend all the time crafting something that could end up only finding a niche audience? Like anything worth doing it takes time and effort, but there’s no assurance of any pay-off. But is pay-off the reason for doing it in the first place?

We could do it for promoting something we’re involved in or something that interests us. We could do it to build community. We could do it simply for vanity. There’s a dangerous trend in our society to over-value our self-worth and the importance of our point of view. This shouldn’t be surprising.

More and more studies are appearing from a variety of sources looking at the increase in narcissistic behaviour in accordance with the rise of social media. Where it used to be that only a select few had the ability to broadcast ideas and opinions, now anyone can do it anywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, podcasting and blogging make it so anyone can say “here I am”. For the attention seekers, all you need to do to stroke your own ego is to record you doing a stunt, write something purposely saying something infuriating, or post a picture of yourself that garners attention for all the wrong reasons.

I’m not saying posting stuff is only done out of wanting attention for attention’s sake. I have friends who’ve fostered rewarding online communities through their social media efforts. I’ve seen friends raise money for charities, bring attention to worthy causes and help people realize “you matter” when it seems the world is saying “no, you don’t”.

The rise of social media presents us with a double-edged sword. For all the intelligent debates social media can foster, it can give as much rise to ignorant ranting. For all the educational value it can have, there can be as many areas that will leave you feeling like you’ve willfully given yourself a lobotomy.

In 1958, Edward R. Murrow gave a speech to the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He talked about the then new medium of television, but the words, I think, can be equally applied to the new medium of social networking: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.”

So here is my battle cry: This blog will be dedicated to trying to make you think, even as opposed as you might be to that idea. That’s not to say we can’t have some fun and some laughs along the way. All I ask is that you keep an open mind. I give you my word I’ll endeavor to do the same. Think of this as an area of “edutainment”.

In the upcoming weeks there will be more activity on Shaneisms, but here’s where I need your help. I want suggestions of what to write about. It can be anything, from current events to a random question that’s been on your mind. Think of it as putting the “social” in “social media”. For now, dear reader, I leave you with a final parting quote about the responsibility inherent in social media, again courtesy of Edward R. Murrow:

“You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other.”

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