The 3 gyroscopes of social media

Apollo_11_launch I think I must have picked this up from one of the Apollo 11 documentaries this past week – when I learned that they had to build a dead reckoning inertial guidance system to find their way through space. And to figure out where they were relative to their starting point they used 3 gyroscopes.  Which got me thinking about the 3 gyrscopes I believe we navigate with when we use social media channels. Here they are.

Gyro 1: Cohesion – Is this making any sense?

Gyro 2: Coherence – How does this fit with everything else in my life?

Gyro 3: Outside world – How does this look to others?

The point I would make is that not all 3 gyros will work for us at any one time but we need to draw on more than one to be able to make sense of what is going on.

Gyro 1: cohesion – concerns the narrow focus on a lot of the content or the styles of communication which are of little interest to those not similarly caught in closeup. Some of what we get into is so weird that the only way to make sense it and get a sense of proportion is to draw on one of the other two gyros.

Gyro 2: coherence – now that we have several social media platforms and aggregators which allow you to watch how someone is operating on several of those platforms we can use this to get some perspective. But the coherence gyro balances the obsessiveness of the first. The narrow focus of gyro 1 is never a sufficient account of who a person is and their context. So by relating social media channels to our wider context we get depth and perspective. There may even be contradictions which has long been a staple of character development fiction. The invasiveness of social media has made the separation of work, family and friends nigh on impossible. So these parallel accounts merge and give a deeper level of understanding.

Gyro 3: the public face. The third gyro is about our constructed identity. How we want others to view us.  Because everything we post is a construct in full knowledge that others are looking. And here we have the choice of correlating with one or other of the first two gyros. Either with a well rounded integrated  – what an interesting person I am persona. Or the slightly jarring obsessive – it sort of makes sense but you have to get into my world to really understand me – of the cohesion gyro.

I am interested in the relationship between these 3 because I have found myself in exchanges so weird and off the wall that the normaly conventions didn't apply – I had nothing from my offline experience to tell me what to do and how to behave. Hence my resorting to the gyros to tell me where I am, how I got here, that I'm really not crazy, that I am still the same person and that however it looks it does all actually hang together.

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