Social Media and the Stars

 

photo via Kathleen Donovan

The last time Mercury went retrograde I waited until the day after it flipped back conjunct to buy myself a smart phone.

What can I say, I’m susceptible to these mammoth masses of atoms hurdling through distances I can’t even fathom. You know how we’re all stuck to the surface of the earth because of gravity? Yeah, well, say what you will about astrology, but you’re susceptible to planetary forces, too.

As Mercury orbits the sun on its elliptical, from the perspective of the Earth it appears to be going first in one direction, reaches the edge of the flat, oval orbit, and then seems to be going backwards: retrograde. The current retrograde (it began on June 7th) will go conjunct on July 2nd.

It’s not a good time for communication, travel, signing documents and the like. Not good news for a writer, editor and journalism student. But hey, I’ve survived them before and I’ll survive it again.

Which brings me back to the smartphone. This device is a godsend. Yes, it messes with the molecular structure of my brain, makes my hands tingle when I text and encourages me to habitually fill moments of space and breath with useless information, but it’s also got some very redeeming qualities.

Take, for example, the time I was driving down the freeway in my newly rented U-Haul. There’s no way I would have even made it to the freeway without the gentle coaxing of my GPS. Sure, by the time I neared my destination my battery was almost dead and I had to resort to good old-fashioned yelling at pedestrians out of a moving vehicle to ask if I missed my turn, but all-in-all, a very necessary piece of equipment in that moment.

When it comes to being in an unfamiliar city, it’s answered more questions than I ever thought I could even have.

One of the main reasons I decided to spring for the smart phone was that I knew that the next steps of my life would be taking me into a world of information and communication. I’ve always had my foot in that world to some degree, but the way I’m planning on using my schooling will simply demand that I be aware of what’s going on in the world—and in a broader way than just looking out my window will tell me.

Having The Google at my fingertips is an asset. It’s one that I wanted and, not only that, it’s one that’s been recommended by one of my profs.

Last week during orientation, she mentioned that having a data plan on a smartphone would be a good idea. These days, people are using all sorts of social media in the media.

In fact, we all spent some time together creating Twitter accounts in class yesterday. Not only must we have the accounts, but we’re dealing with them on class time.

The professor labbelled Twitter as one of the most important tool journalists use right now. “Right now” being highly stressed.

The world is changing, we get new technology all the time. What’s becoming obvious is that whatever happens we must be willing to adopt change. I had begrudingly signed up for an account a couple of days prior. I would be killing two birds with one stone: getting Twitter, as directed (I’m very good at following direction) and following news agencies to keep up to date on headlines.

Constantly knowing what’s going on in the news has become another imposed mandate during this program.

So I find myself welcoming social media into my life in ways I haven’t before. I’d been hesitant to join the Twitter wagon. Now, I see how it can be used as a tool rather than making me a slave.

In fact, of the three classes I’m in during the summer term, Computer Assisted Reporting is the one that has me the most jazzed up. Go figure. 

Signing up for all this social media while Mercury is in retrograde may give me something to worry about but hey, we’ve already made it this far through a full moon on a Friday the 13th. I may be jinxing myself by saying it—but I think we’re going to be okay.

And of course: my Twitter page.

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