If you’ve spent any time with a nose in the news, you know that the phenomenon of Social Media has become a staple of our way of life. Just the fact that your reading this blog, means that you spend some time on the web delving into the edges of web 2.0 and the tip of the social media iceberg. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and host of other blogs, e-groups, and outlets. But as the social net grows, where does the aspect of a “secret society” stand when enveloped in so much transparency?
In its broader sense, social media is the loose assortment of websites, blogs, and forum that the reader can post, contribute, follow, and send to friends, in essence, taking a role in the development of the life of the content being generated. In sharing it, the participant is now involved in shaping its meaning by contributing their own thoughts to the discussion.
This is different from the past where web pages were static and filled with one dimensional information. Now any reader can become a vibrant participant in a community of readers contributing their own input to the message. It becomes empowering to be able to share in the dialog of something you feel passionate about.
Many will say that social media was/is a passing trend in internet usage, but very quickly it is becoming a mainstay of our daily existence. To site a few examples, local news broadcasters have their own Twitter accounts, many agencies (governmental or non governmental) post updates and announcements on Twitter before they send press releases to the media, and businesses frequently utilize marketing guru’s to add and aggregate their content to their lists of thousands of followers. In many ways, it is taking a leading role in marketing an idea before it falls into past traditional marketing processes.
Seeing this seems to set it counter current to the idea of the fraternal secret societies that have evolved their particular brand of “not a secret society, but a society with secrets” practice. Really, you could say that the fraternity concept is a model of pre-digital social networking bringing in individuals to meet, mingle and grow their base of friends and associates. Just as in the contemporary social media set up, news is often shared and parsed for new ideas to grow and take shape.
This is exactly the practice takes place in the lodge rooms and social halls of Freemasonry.
How do we blend the physical and the digital? How does the society that defines its teachings as secret awaken to find itself in the modern age of digital correspondence, international friends groups and interested participants? And this only addresses those in the know, what about those outside the circle of knowledge about the fraternity, what about engaging those beyond the fold to raise awareness that the organization exists?
Social media will not be a silver bullet of marketing, but instead will be another tool in in the arsenal of ideas and mediums to communicate with. Doubtful will the secrets of generations be communicated or passed online rather than in person, but this boom of Gen Y culture will absolutely dictate how the Secret Society makes itself accessible. Maybe evening some respects cause it to stop and reflect on what exactly the secrets are and what they mean in an age when secrecy as such is little regarded.
Somewhere in the digital either is a happy medium of the knowledge that was once communicated mouth to ear but now very accessible to even the youngest of neophytes. Besides the scheduling of events and posts of meeting goings on is the next step in educating those of interest to know more. And it is in that space, between secret society and social media, that the real transformation of Masonic light will shine forth.
In the mean time, what do you think about the intersection of social media and secret societies? Where do they cross?
When I lost my job in January, the masons I found on LinkedIn were very helpful. I must have had at least 5 serious job leads that came either from a blue lodge group or a Scottish Rite group on LinkedIn. The better groups will write to your lodge (or valley, chapter, orient, council, shrine temple or commandery) secretary to determine if you really are a member before allowing you to join their group. This version of masonic networking was very helpful to me in difficult times. There are also Prosper masonic groups who provide loans to masons who may not be able to get bank loans. As long as these groups guard their respective West Gates, I think this is a great way, through social media, that brothers can offer or find relief from other masons.