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Because I Can’t Play Mahjong…

by James Ball on October 29, 2009

Mahjong Tiles …I’ve decided to keep playing checkers.  Maybe it’s not the best analogy for the learning or instruction about social media, but it makes sense to me, and if I grasp something well enough, it becomes more than just a handy tool to me. Social media, in certain circles, is referred to as “the game”. Some are skilled players, and some just want to get involved and play. Taking a minute to make sure we’re playing the same game seems like a good practice, don’t you think?

Social media is a passionate enterprise for most. Those who are skilled and effective seem to have a burning desire to share what they know. Many businesses are now zealously seeking advice and sound counsel:  they are taking their first steps out of the board room, and into the social media arena. This is the place we meet.  A friendly game of checkers sounds like just the ticket!

Seemingly, the whole world is involved right now, from one side of the social media checkerboard or the other. Whether we’re playing with red pieces or with black, we all want to play, and we all want to win. I introduce checkers as a model here because it’s simple, and because it’s calm. I don’t play checkers as an adult very often. In fact, almost all of my memories of the game come from my childhood. What strikes me is that I have no memories of ever being any good at checkers. All of my recollections are of learning how to play the game.

When playing checkers with a child, one doesn’t set out with a plan to destroy the opponent; we try to make it fun. We slide in our comments and suggestion where appropriate, and we advance the understanding of the game for the little guy. Likewise, if we’re just now playing for the first time, we ask questions, and we respect our opponent as one who is trying to help us learn.  Introducing and learning about social media always feels like this to me. Checkers has never been about winning and losing for me, I’ve only ever played to learn the game, or to teach it.

On any given day I sit on both sides of the checkerboard. This simple mindset helps me to grow personally, and it helps me to help others. Concerning social media, the whole teaching-and-learning of “the game” is where my fondest memories have come from lately. How do you approach it, do you have a game plan?

Heather October 29, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Good analogy…
I'm not in it for the game…I'm here just to learn and interact with the world a little. There's a big world huh…?

Christina October 29, 2009 at 5:37 pm

James, I like the idea of guidance and friendly mentorship I think you’re alluding to… It makes learning and teaching seem so natural and right. :-)

I want to let this roll around in my head awhile and figure out a way I can apply it in a more structured classroom setting. Thank you!

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