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Amassing Knowledge vs. Building Community: The Expanded Possibilities in the Digital Age


Social media is a term that is often thrown around when people talk about the various sites and services available to them online. In the digital age we now find ourselves in, the way in which people go about gathering information has changed. Gone are the days where you have to read dozens of print newspapers and magazines to get a full sense of the available knowledge out there. The gathering of info used to be a solitary exercise; one that required an individual to dig and dig in isolation. To an extent, if one chose to do so, a person could function like that today if they wished.


Just think about it for a minute; in the age of the instant search, is there really a need to ask anyone anything? If you truly wish to seem like a know-it-all, you can have your Google search open at all times. In this day, you can search for like two or three good sources of info on a subject, read up on them, and voila—you are an instant expert. As far as everyone else is concerned, you were never at any point out of the know, and no one will be the wiser. (Come on; don’t even act like you’ve never done that!)


There is almost no need to ask anyone anything. You can allow the World Wide Web to turn you into an erudite. However, just because you can take that approach, this does not mean that you should. In today’s rapidly changing social media environment, with mobile internet and an intimidating amount of information out there, it can be overwhelming. To take all of that on as an individual calling leaves you with little in the way of interaction, and puts much mental burden on you—wiz or no wiz.  


There are many possibilities to use the new media as a way of building community and spreading the wealth of information around. For example, I recently have taken to using social media to continue to further my knowledge of genealogy and family history. Genealogical research is itself, as anyone in the field can tell you, a tedious task to undertake. For the last four years, I have been on the search for family history information. In the last two years, with the help of FaceBook, Ancestry.com, and other social media, I have collaborated with others to find more information than I could have possibly discovered through my own efforts. This is one area in which I have seen definite improvement in terms of the methods of gathering information. Eventually, my goal is to gather all of this information in one place, so that the next generation will not have to start nearly from scratch. Because of the relative ease of access to social media in today’s environment, I hope that it will result in encouraging more people to become aware of their family history.


Written By: Marc W. Polite


Edited By: Kenya Mack


Marc W. Polite has risen to become one of the fresh new voices in the Black literary world, with his hard-hitting topics on progressive politics in the African-American community, Hip-Hop, and Technology. His work has been published in Race Talk Magazine, The African-American Daily Digest, The New England Informer, The Webster Style Magazine, and The Paper at The City College of New York. He currently resides in Harlem where he is continuing to weave together the history and stories that will generate a new brand of social awareness that is original, insightful, and unknown to most of the general public.


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