Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. ~ Kietzmann, Jan H.; Kristopher Hermkens (2011). “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media.”
We live in a fast era. Things are just happening at the press of a button. Literally! But how does the Craft adjust to all of these fast-paced times without compromising the core rules that serve as guidelines for witches’ etiquette and interaction? Much has been said about Facebook groups and how that affects the Craft today and the witches’ interactions?
I started the Alexandrian Network in the original platform (the Ning), but as I started it, I was always conscious of the environment, as Craft groups abide by rules and we need to respect them. Some of the provisions of the Network guaranteed that no protocol would be breached and that, although in a new era of communication, conscious adjustment of the medium of communication could be made without compromising the basic Craft rules.
“Moving with the times,” some will say. In the 70’s it was the newspapers and all the interviews, books and letters. Today it is the social media groups on Facebook, etc. which give rise to a faster and immediate response.
I said this before; the reason I chose the existing platform of the Alexandrian Network, opposed to Facebook, is because, Facebook, in my opinion, doesn’t serve the Craft well as a primarily social Network. We should take advantage of social media but not let social media interfere with our guidelines. For that, adjustments had to be made. Public groups or “seekers groups” should inspire, not teach. Direct teaching should always be done within the circles of witchcraft, not in social media.
As the “emancipation” movement of the 80’s grew, witches became more vocal with newsletters, workshops, fairs and events, all contributing to a fast-paced communication era, very much turned to the individual, the self-promotion of ideas and methods, and the encouraging of the recognition of each individual personality. With this, the ego took to reign in some of the sects of pride against prejudice. Individual voices found a way to restore their own self-esteem and rise in glory. This was good until the traditional paths like Alexandrian and Gardnerian turned to be “too much work to handle.” Today, I do consider this a blessing — this established “emancipation movement,” took the form of a religion of freedom, where all could be who they wanted and how they wanted to be. But also deter those who didn’t have a genuine interest in the more traditional paths. Only those with a true vocation in the traditional ways would even think about approaching a traditional coven and request initiation.
With the “semi-retirement of the Man in Black,” and with communications being done directly, either via email or via any “messenger,” teachers have to rethink how the Craft would be portrayed and steered into the fast track lane of the modern world of social media. Old school witches reconnected which was a blessing — or was it?
Because of the easy communication, witches found out who was who and where they were at the speed of light (literally.) I often witness the witches of the 70’s in social media horrified about the theme of a conversation that generally would be discreetly handled at the appropriate time in a circle night at the covenstead, within a magic circle, between only initiated witches. Social media changed everything. The witches of the 70’s joined these new forums or groups to establish contact, perhaps with others of the same covens as theirs, and talk about the “old times.” What they found was that anything was discussed publicly, often times with the excuse of having been published already. Those who delve into the “fishing” technique loved it and continued to enjoy it, as they revel in the stupidity of those who allow it to happen. Even if it is not clear, they most certainly are happy with the few scraps of information they can get from the disagreements between those in the know. Ego wars are great when it comes to blind every participant of what they say in public forums.
“Fishing” is a curious thing. It is practiced by those who do not want to commit to training but still want the information, without taking responsibility for the knowledge and its subsequent practice. This “technique” is frequently practiced by clever individuals that are masters in sowing fragmented information and make sense of what is said. This, of course, is at the basis of false credentials, when those who have practiced this for years within the closed circles of the craft internet come out as being someone who knows and therefore legit.
What’s really impressive is that most of the craft initiates (well, those who are bored anyway) allow this to happen and expose content which should be kept private. Craft basic rules shouldn’t be changed because they do work and guarantee success.
I think the Man in Black should never retire. The Man in Black should now, more than ever, continue and carry on his task. Things are getting very fast, but the Craft is meant to be savored, understood and experienced, it needs time and real human contact. The Craft is and always will be an experience.
We can talk and discuss. It is a great thing to have these platforms. But as in all things, it should be used wisely, or instead of a magical ego, built from the experience of witchcraft. We will have witches with a social media ego, built by “likes” and “dislikes,” approvals or disapproval and big or small numbers of followers.