AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

The Power of Social Media: A Personal Story

Posted by dcprmantony12 on May 21, 2011

Social media is a big and scary universe. I found that out today when I picked up the phone at work and got a jolt that makes me appreciate social media and a bit apprehensive of its intrusion.

If you come to know me, you will often hear me say that I was a former print reporter and that I still love the smell of newspaper ink. I worked for two newspapers during my career — one in Syracuse, N.Y. and the other in Newark, N.J.

When I worked in Syracuse, a young guy who had just graduated from college read a story I wrote and called me up to talk about it. He also was looking for any tips on how to break into the newspaper business. He and I became fast friends.

After several years, he got hired at a newspaper in Fort Wayne, IN and I ventured off to Jersey. We lost touch and I haven’t spoken to him in at least 15 years.

What does social media have to do with this story? Today, after 15 years, I picked up the phone and heard that voice again at the other end. This time, I didn’t recognize it until he reminded me that he knew me in Syracuse and joked that he was not a stalker. My immediate reaction was, “Does this guy need a kidney or something.” All jokes aside, he is a good guy and poses no threat but it was a bit startling to have someone call your job after all those years to look you up.

I asked him how he found me and my work  phone number after 15 years. His answer: LINKEDIN.com. He’s a sports writer for a newspaper in Virginia Beach, VA and often when he is doing stories he starts his research by going first to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and, yes, LinkedIn.com. My profile on LinkedIn.com has only been up about two years and does not contain my phone number, but my place of work is there. It only took a few calls to get to me. He says he never found me earlier because he knew me by my byline “Anthony Ruffin” and it never occurred to him to search for me as “Tony” (which is what I prefer).

Thanks to the power of LinkedIn.com, I’ve connected with an old friend I haven’t laid eyes on since the mid-1990s. But if it’s that easy to find people online then where does privacy begin and end? 

How do you guys feel about having the world be able to make contact with you without your permission?

Tony

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One Response to “The Power of Social Media: A Personal Story”

  1. Stephany Greene said

    I feel moved to reply to your question – How do you guys feel about having the world be able to make contact with you without your permission? The way your friend found you was quite endearing. I have also experienced reaching a long lost friend or two via Facebook. However I’m not crazy about the fact that almost anyone can try to reach anyone at anytime now a days. I used to like the fact that I could have an unlisted home number, and I really don’t like the fact that companies can contact me without my permission on my private cell phone. And human resource departments even check potential candidates’ Facebook pages to look into their backgrounds. It’s as if we American have invited “Big Brother” into our own back pocket simply because we need the attention of others. Perhaps we should look at whether we’re addicted to being connected or not. Why is it so important to know what everyone we know is doing all the time? Why do we care if one of our friends is sitting in a restaurant downtown? What is it all for? What was life like without such excessive knowledge? What’s going to happen next?

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