COMM 506 is coming to a close and I’m having some mixed emotions. First, relief that a challenging course with a hearty workload will be done, leaving me with some spare time. Second, a sense of loss, because I know I won’t be networking as hard as I was. Third, confusion, because the concepts and theories I’ve learned in this class have woven themselves so tightly into my life. Run into a pal from the cohort? Small world! Three out of eight brunch friends are lactose intolerant? Homophily phenomenon!
Learning networking theory has been fascinating. I love seeing patterns in the world around me. I love science. When I learn a new scientific theory, I tend to actively seek out examples. Or, if someone mentions an example of it in conversation, I bust out “THAT’S BECAUSE OF THE EPIGENETIC CODE!” or something else obnoxious. Actually, now that I consider it, I’ll do that with anything I learn. I have an English and writing background, so watch out if you accidentally speak in iambic pentameter!
But I do have one problem with networking theory that I’ve identified over the course of the course (sorry). Networking theory doesn’t actually help solve my social network problems.
Networking theory seems, to me, to be mainly descriptive. It’s been very helpful for practical applications of networking, such as using Twitter effectively. But in this course, it hasn’t helped me much with those ever-pervasive questions of WHAT DO I DO IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS?
Remember high school? I was a member of the second-tier social strata. I think I was sort of maybe the leader of it? But it’s hard to remember accurately, because I’m remembering about myself and it was a long, long time ago. Using networking theory, I now understand what was going on in the “popular” strata: sometimes people would become extra mean in order to increase their rank. Sometimes they would be nicer to our strata if they wanted something from one of us, thereby moving their location in the network to increase their effectance. There were hangers-on in my group whom I tended to ignore because I didn’t like them, and I had zero interest in the games that were going on with the cliques. It seems that, by remaining neutral, I missed what is usually everyone’s practice period in networking!
Still, using what I have learned in COMM506, I can’t imagine what I could have done to make life better back then. What have I learned that could have prevented the cruelty of sixteen-year-old girls? Is there anything I know now that I didn’t before that could ameliorate the social climbing, the broken hearts, the friends stood up or stabbed in the back?
I can’t think of anything. And now, the social situations are far less complicated, but networking theory still only describes my social circles, and does nothing to help me figure out what to do if, say, I’m double booked.
This is, perhaps, a good thing. I prefer to leave a course still questioning and interested than done, hands dusted, never to think of the content again.