Melody Karle wrote A Social Media Survival Guide first published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2020. The paperback edition came out this year, and I wanted to ask Melody a few questions about the book. My interview with her is below:
Lauren: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Melody: Hello! My name is Melody Karle and I am a librarian and researcher in the areas of social media and personal digital archiving. I have worked in special, public, and academic libraries and enjoy helping people figure out how to manage their online life. I live in northern Montana and currently work for the Montana State Library as the System Administrator for the Montana Shared Catalog consortia. When not doing library work and research, I foster kittens and garden.
Lauren: Briefly summarize A Social Media Survival Guide.
Melody: A Social Media Survival Guide focuses on the most commonly used social media platforms in the United States (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc.), with each of those big platforms getting its own chapter. For each platform the book explains the basics of how each site works, why you might use it, pros and cons, and privacy and safety tips.
Lauren: Why did you decide to write this book?
Melody: A Social Media Survival Guide was written to fill a need that I saw in friends, family, and library patrons. Most books about how to use social media are intended for professionals or people managing a work or business account. But many “regular” people struggle with knowing how to make social media work for them. They may use it every day and still feel like the huge amount of features and options are overwhelming. Or they may be interested in trying out a new platform but need an explanation of how to get started. Hopefully A Social Media Survival Guide gives them the clear and basic information they need–meant for individual people–so they can do that!
Lauren: In what ways can librarians use A Social Media Survival Guide?
Melody: Librarians are the front line for many patrons trying to solve problems, especially problems with technology and online access. I think it is extremely important for librarians to have a basic understanding of these platforms, and of how they can help people. We may think about social media as being frivolous and non-essential but it has uses in all areas of life and society. One large area I think about is online support for medical and personal issues. People in rural areas like where I live in Montana may need support for an uncommon medical condition and they are not able to find anything local, but they may find the support they need through a Facebook Group or sub-reddit discussion. It is also just basic social support—people who have family and friends across large distances can see updates and stay informed. For better or worse, it has a huge role to play.
Lauren: What do you hope readers immediately apply after reading the book?
Melody: I would love to see everyone try a new social media platform after reading about them in this book. We all tend to dig in on one or two sites and we stay put. It takes a lot to make us try new things! Each platform has its own feel and strengths, though, so maybe there is something out there that will work better for you than what you currently use. We don’t all have to use social media the same way. You don’t have to replace Facebook or Instagram with Tiktok–you can use Tiktok for information or fun and STILL use Instagram to see photos of your friends’ kids! No one platform has to be for everything. So yes, I would love to see people read A Social Media Survival Guide and try out one of the platforms they learn about from the book.
Lauren: Has anything changed since the book was first published?
Melody: Absolutely, yes!! Social media changes so fast. I tried my best to keep that in mind when writing the book so that they information stays helpful even when some of the small details change. But some big things are missing—most notably when I was writing the book, Tiktok was new and not as huge as it is now. Therefore, that is not one of the “big 10” in the book. It was not one of the top 10 social sites at the time but it certainly is now! I am watching many new social media platforms closely— such as BeReal. I am also curious to see what happens with the big Twitter shake-up after its recent purchase. Many people jumped ship on Twitter for Mastodon, Tumblr, and Tribel. I am working on a reference book of social media platforms right now and it is a challenge to keep up with all of them.
Lauren: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Melody: Yes! I would love to remind people that most social media platforms have a way to archive your data and posts, and I highly recommend people do that now and then. If social media is where you make big life announcements (and where your friends and family all comment), it may be the only record you have. Those messages may be digital, but in an era when people no longer send cards and mail it may be nice in years to come to have some record of all the important moments.
Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Her expertise includes information literacy, educational technology, and library and information science education. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.
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