Dancing With Myself
I have been dancing ballet for a year and a half. I love it. When I want to practice at home I usually do so in front of glass sliding doors that lead onto the balcony of the apartment that I live in. I do this because I can see my reflection and the sliding doors become like a mirror. The problem is that I need to practice without curtains so I can see my reflection. This means that everyone in the apartment block opposite mine can see me performing very, very poor attempts at pirouettes. I must say it is fairly funny and has become a laugh with friends in the apartments. This may seem unrelated but the topic of today’s blog is voyeurism.
The definition of voyeurism is changing. No longer is perving on someone dancing ballet in their apartment the definition of voyeurism. Voyeurism is now seen as observing the world online. Social Media has changed the way people observe and interact with each other. I can go online and be voyeuristic. I can observe different blogs, websites, facebook pages, twitter account ect. No one needs to know my name; no one needs to know I am even doing it.
I feel the issue that online voyeurism relates to engagement. Let’s continue with the ballet analogy for a little while. Imagine if there were other people in the apartments that danced ballet in front of their sliding doors but never told anyone. Then imagine if I saw someone else dancing ballet in front of their sliding doors but I never said anything to them about how I do the same thing. We could continue to dance ballet in front of sliding doors without communicating with one another about our experience.
If I talk to the person who I have seen dancing like I do, then I change the dynamic. I am no longer being voyeuristic. I am interacting and engaging. Imagine what would happen if I spoke to the person dancing ballet in front of the sliding doors and told them I do the same thing. What would that mean for this person? What would it mean for me?
I think this would be a very powerful experience for both of us. I think that this is a key point about voyeurism. To me I feel really good when I connect with another person. I can’t connect if I am just observing. I think I need to engage to feel true connection.
Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people. The simplest form of engaging with online content is to click ‘like’. You can also comment on a person’s status and blog. You can share something online and direct other people to what you have seen. Check out this Mashable article on creative ways you can engage with twitter beyond just following someone.
I want to talk about moving beyond voyeurism to engagement because I think the human services sector can really benefit from the interaction of workers online. Lots of people in our sector use social media in their personal lives and may follow blogs such as this one. Through engaging in social media we can move from voyeurism to action, and that action can be around social issues.
Imagine if I spoke to the person dancing ballet in front of their sliding doors about how I do it too. Then imagine if then we found more people who dance ballet in front of their sliding doors. Eventually we could gather a group together to buy proper mirrors instead of sliding doors. How good would that feel?
Imagine if we did that in the human services sector. If enough people interact with one another online and say the same thing this creates solidarity. How nice is it to know you are not the only one feeling like you are struggling to balance a case load? How good does it feel to connect with someone in the sector at trainings and seminars? Creating community and solidarity online can also lead to action about issues.
Commenting on a blog or facebook can be a scary way of interacting. It does involve some risk. Our sector often deals with sensitive issues which need to be talked about in inclusive, supportive ways. Another risk that may prevent people from interacting is saying something that may be different to their organisations stance on an issue. There are scary things that prevent people from interacting. Yet without interacting about the issues it only perpetuates the situation.
What I am proposing for this blog is to have a go at commenting on it. I will reply to as many comments as I can. If you feel uneasy about commenting perhaps you can comment by creating an alias. I am really keen to hear from you. I don’t want to be the only one dancing ballet in front of sliding glass doors !
Matthew Ross – Social Work Practicum Student on Placement with PeakCare