So the other night, per Brandon Duncan’s idea, I decided to invite four of my favorite historical figures over for dinner. I cooked a really lovely feast for Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Queen Elizabeth I. Then I showed them this social media stuff to see what they thought about it.
Why are you looking at me like that? Doesn’t this happen to everyone?
Well, anywho, I captured some of our conversation, and I thought I would share it with you here.
Me: So what do you think about all of this stuff in general?
Note: Abe and Martin were looking pretty choked up.
Abe: You know, when I was alive, there was not even a pretense of equality between black and white, woman or man. People from other countries were barely even thought of. We couldn’t really communicate with them easily. I had always wanted to go to Europe and never did get there. With this amazing technology, everyone who has these machines can talk to each other. It’s just amazing!
Martin: I agree with Mr. Lincoln to a large degree. When we were fighting for equality, we were focusing on the racial differences in America between Blacks and whites. We were hoping that eventually everyone could play on an equal playing field, but there was such a gap between our people and whites that we wanted to conquer that obstacle first. With this technology, it seems like everyone has the same chance to make it. Even though it’s a small segment of the world, it’s far beyond what we could have imagined in my time.
Me: Ladies? You’ve been pretty quiet so far.
Elizabeth: Why are women so often segregated from men on lists of the best? When I was queen, people said that I could never be kingly because I was not a man. I was, at first, compared to princesses or to queens from the past who used womanly wiles to get what they wanted. I had the heart of a man, the will of a man, and I came to be compared to kings. Why are women still compared to just other women, even now?
Eleanor: I’m not as worried about that as much. I tend to agree with Mr. Lincoln and Dr. King that this levels the playing field. But this seems like such a great opportunity to improve the world. Imagine what I could have done during the 1930s if I had been able to reach people with the touch of a button? We could have reached out to so many people. Now you can, but I’m not sure the will to do it is there.
Me: How would you have used social media in your time?
Martin: Oh LORD how we could have used this. Can you imagine it? What’s that word you said people shoot for? Things going viral? Our movement went viral without the help of this technology. We depended on meetings and marches. We still would have done that, but imagine if we could have had this technology working while we were marching? Imagine having the people of South Africa, uh, uh, tweet while we were marching in Washington? The possibilities would have been endless for gathering people as a force to be reckoned with.
Abe: Well, I’m not sure how this would have been used by me personally. I reckon it would have been nice to stay in better touch with family, but Mary’s and my family was so torn apart by the war that we really couldn’t keep touch in the good ole way anyway. I would have been able to talk to my generals a lot faster, but you don’t want everyone to see that stuff. I guess I would have used it just to try to talk to people and let them know they could talk to me.
Eleanor: Like I said already, this kind of technology would have been such a help to me in my efforts to help others. I can’t even imagine it. I wish I had a chance to do my work with this technology as a tool. Id’ love to see how that would turn out.
Elizabeth: I just don’t like this technology. I don’t understand what everyone likes about it, to be frank. If I had tried to build up my power using a technology like this, people would have questioned if it was really me. They would not have believed a woman could be saying these things or thinking this way. To me, it shrouds you in mystery when you should be at all times your full self.
Me: OK, well, one more question and then I’ll let you guys go. What do you think are the biggest pros and cons of this new world?
Elizabeth: I have just voiced what I think are the negatives. I think this technology prevents you from showing people who really and truly are. It puts you behind a cloud of secrecy instead of putting you face-to-face with people. But in listening to our companions here, I would have to acknowledge the positive of being able to reach and talk to people from all around the world with the simple click of a button. Whether I would use it myself or not, that is stunning.
Eleanor: I think the downside is that it’s too easy to talk about yourself or to get caught in tiny details. There is not enough emphasis from what I’ve seen tonight on helping the world at large. That said, the huge positive is that if people started using this technology to help people, it could become something that improves the world significantly.
Martin: The negative I see is that there is a rift, it seems, between those who are doing very well and those who may not be. There is a huge focus on the numbers and not enough on the person. Is that different from focusing on a person’s skin color? The positives though are that we can level the playing field if we can avoid that competitive sparring, and that’s highly encouraging.
Abe: Yes, I agree with everything Dr. King said. The temptation to divide is very strong in people, but if everyone can work together in this online world you’re talking about, that would really be something, and as Mrs. Roosevelt says, a lot could be done to improve the world as a whole.
So there you have it. A few snippets from my dinner with some of my favorite historical figures. Who have you talked to lately? Or what would you have asked these people if you had had the chance?
First Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/HalloweenH
Second Image by michelle kwajafa. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/chelle2008