As part of my seminar course, ANG 6002 Presenting Anthropology, we were asked to do several projects on presenting anthropology to the public over the course of the semester. The very first of these challenges was the Social Media Challenge, which would be worked on and kept up through out the semester. We were asked to choose a social media format (be it a Twitter account, a blog, ect.), create posts, and see what the result would be.
When I started this project earlier in the year, I really did not have any expectations. I was not even sure if I would remember to make posts! I thought, “How on earth am I going to remember to do this? When am I going to find the time?” But, as it turned out, neither of these were ever an issue.
My biggest challenge was actually deciding what social media format to use. I knew I wanted to try something new, a format that I had no previous experience with. This could have been a bad idea, but I was up for the challenge. I wanted it to be simple to use and have the potential to reach as many people as it could. I also knew early on that I wanted to do something more than a wordy blog post. No offense to you bloggers out there, but I knew that particular format would not work for me. I needed and wanted something that was more visual based, where I could simply post pictures of anthropology. I eventually decided on a Tumblr. For me, it combined all the best qualities of a blog and a Twitter account into one format that was quick and easy for me to use. Essentially, it fit me, my schedule, and what I wanted to do with this project.
As I mentioned before, I really did not have any expectations. I did not even know what exactly I would post. I just knew my posts would mostly be pictures. I chose to post pictures because, well, pictures do not take up too much time to look at. And, with the attention spans of people today, combined with the popularity of visuals like memes, a few seconds of a person’s time was all I wanted and, honestly, could hope to have. I guess in that respect I had very low expectations. But, the people of Tumblr are always surprising me! They do seem to make time to read lengthier posts, and I find myself doing the same. I, who once wondered where I would even find the time to do this social media challenge, found myself taking the time to read the longer posts of others on Tumblr.
I found this mostly visual format to actually be very successful, especially because Tumblr is already a heavy visual social media site. Tumblr also happen to be the only social media format I chose to use. As I said before, I wanted something easy to use, as I am not very up to date on the multiple social media platforms out there and how they work. I tried connecting my Tumblr to my Facebook account, but I never seemed to have much success with my Tumblr posts appearing on Facebook. That was unfortunate, and I resigned myself on just sticking to one social media format. It was probably for the best anyway.
It was actually really surprising to see how quickly my posts on Tumblr were being “liked” and reposted by others. And, once I started adding multiple tags to my posts, I felt I was really reaching an incredibly large audience. It is interesting to look at posts and see the path they took, the different people that saw my post, and who reblogged it.
Throughout the semester, I have been gaining followers. As of writing this, I have a total of 20 followers. That might not sound like much, but to me, that is pretty good considering my Tumblr has only been up since January. And, to make it even better, the majority of these followers I have no connection to! Which, I have to admit, is really surprising to me as I was not expecting much in the way of followers.
It was also pretty amazing to learn from where these followers were from. In fact, two followers that I gained early in the semester are of anthropology departments/ anthropology clubs from Canada and New Zealand. I just could not believe that an anthropology group from New Zealand would be interested in following the ramblings of a single grad student from the University of West Florida. But, they are interested, and I was just as interested in them. I have to admit, though, I was really excited about that!
So far, I have made a total of 75 posts on Tumblr. Some gained a little attention, and others seemed to garner nothing. My most popular post by far, however, gained a total, so far, of 221 notes, which are composed of a mixture of “likes” and reblogged notices. It was an Anthropology Major Fox meme about mentally undressing someone’s skin in order to see he or she’s skeletal structure. I think it was a hit with the other anthropologists on Tumblr, and even perhaps some people that are not associated with anthropology. I know I liked it! I still occasionally get a notice of someone “liking” or reblogging that particular post. I posted that picture some time ago, and it really surprises me that the image is still being circulated. In this way, I really can see how social media has a way of continuously transferring information, regardless of how old or new that information may be. I suppose that information always ends up being new to someone.
I am still not sure if this social media project really fulfilled a need for me. It definitely helped connect me to more people than I ever thought I could be connected to. I also see the potential in Tumblr in so far as if I ever need help or advice in anthropology. It has given me the ability to connect to a network of people involved in anthropology outside of my university’s department. I suppose in that way it has fulfilled some sort of spot in my academic career that I really did not consider when I originally started this project. For that reason, I want to continue with Tumblr. I will also continue with it because I find it fun and enjoyable. I like reading the posts of my fellow anthropologists. It is surprising how much current news I learn from Tumblr first over other social media formats and even the news. It has definitely become a new source of news, information, and knowledge for me that I did not expect.