Like Birds on a Wire: Making Connections through Social Media*

Birds on a wire
Image by flickr user LindsayShaver

by Jana

The Exponent recently joined the ranks of Twitter users.  Please follow us to keep apprised of  weblinks and blogposts that are relevant to the world of Mormon women.

I became an avid user of social media after the success of my birthday fundraiser last spring, when I raised over a thousand dollars to buy prosthetic limbs for a teenage amputee.  Since joining Facebook I’ve ‘friended’ grade-school friends, former ward members, and colleagues from all walks of my life.  I love ‘connecting’ with such a large group of vibrant and fascinating people!  Social media has also influenced my professional life as I’ve become acquainted with other historians through twittering at conferences (such as last month when I was ‘tweeting’ a digital humanities conference and discovered a fellow twitter-user sitting nearby–we’ve now connected on multiple different topics, including religion).

While I realize that social media has its limitations, and it can be a huge time-suck if it’s not used with moderation, I absolutely enjoy how it offers a daily window into the lives of my friends and acquaintances (yes, I am a bit of a virtual voyeur). It helps me to understand the ‘quiet desperation’ of many of our lives, even as it reminds me that we are not alone in the challenges that we each face every day.

Have you tried any type of social media (such as Facebook, Linked In, Goodreads, etc)? If so, tell us how you’re using it. Also, let us know your twitter alias so we can ‘follow’ you online, too!


*This metaphor reminds of me Laurel Ulrich & Emma Lou Thayne’s excellent book of Exponent essays All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir, the title of which builds on the refrain from a song with lyrics about our connectedness to each other:

All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws or anything they got now

Everybody here is a part of the plan
We all get to play in the great critter band
From the eagle in the sky to the whale in the sea
It’s one great symphony

Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is


  1. My sister Lynnette got me to try Facebook about six months ago. (Okay, maybe “enticed” is a better word.) I’m with you, Jana: I love it. I love keeping up with bits of friends’ lives when I might otherwise not be much in touch with them. And, truth be told, I’ve really enjoyed it for getting to know people from the Bloggernacle better in a less formal context.

    I’ve heard the raves, but I haven’t tried Twitter.

  2. I was bullied into Facebook about a month ago by my sisters who live on the other side of the country. I admit,now, it is a quilty pleasure. Even if it’s just a ramdom thought, I love being in their lives on a daily basis.

    My hesitation about facebook comes with the multitude of “friend requests” I get from virtual strangers (no pun intended!). I am a private person and have only about a dozen connections. I ignore friend requests more than I accept them. I feel a little guilty about it, but I just don’t want that many people reading my chatty little thoughts! I think it would be a fascinating study to look at participant’s behavior on the social networking sites. How are our personalities reflected in the decisions we make online? Are we more open online, or more wary? Do we actively participate or are we “watchers”. I watched this site a long, long time before I was bold enough to comment!

  3. Two of Three:
    You can create different groups on FB so not everyone you friend will see all of your content (for example, lots of people do this if their boss or their Mom ‘friends’ them). And you might be surprised at how many people would care about your ‘random thoughts’–I’ve found many an acquaintance turn into a true friend thru discovering that we like the same poetry, etc.

  4. I have a testimony of Facebook because it helped me reconnect with a family that I taught on my mission and hadn’t heard from for ten years 🙂 I was also very reluctant to join Facebook, but I like it a lot now. It’s a good way to stay connected with many of my former mission companions and family members that I wouldn’t be able to keep track of otherwise. I don’t spend a ton of time on there, I don’t do any of the games, and I’m choosy about who I ‘friend’.

  5. I love goodreads. My sister introduced me to the site, after one too many questions (from me) about what she was reading. The reviews and information are public and searchable – unlike sites like facebook that allow things to have security.

    But it’s been great to see what friends have been reading, and take suggestions.

  6. living all over the world as I do, these new things like facebook and skype have really helped me stay connected when I get lonely in an unfamiliar place.

  7. I totally agree with D’Arcy. Not only does Facebook help me keep in touch with people, but it helps me find stuff that I need. For example, a few weeks ago I made my status, “Does anyone in New York have an air mattress that I can borrow?” and I got a response in 2 minutes.

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