For "presence" you must be in a conversation.
#3254 Created 03/31/2013 Updated 01/23/2021
We pay "attention" to media. An original sense of the word's meaning is "mental heeding". "Heed" survives from the 14th Century only in the form of "take heed", meaning "to take care, to attend."
We pay attention to media, we attend to it, we take care of it. We cultivate our own little media gardens, planting and pruning, contributing fertilizer, enjoying the view, chatting with the neighbors who drop by.
Our "attention" to media, and our "presence" in social media circles are two aspects of a phenomenon. Masses of consumers enter this attention field by participating in social media, online gaming, and the interactive consumption of news and entertainment product. These consumers are simultaneously present in an online environment, and paying attention to the environment from the outside. This dual position is possible because multiple online activities often occur simultaneously. Users may have multiple computer screens in front of them, along with televisions, smart phones, pads, tablets, and more.
The multiple devices, accompanied by multiple windows open on computer screens, enable multi-tasking among screens and windows. Consequently, a user may be in a chat conversation in Google, posting to Facebook, listening to the radio, watching live news on cable, and killing cows in Farmville, while babysitting and cooking. They pay attention to "the media" while being simultaneously the object and the subject of attention by "the media".
"The media" covers a lot of territory, of course. Anything that can be considered a "tool" to "store" and "deliver" information or data; it really only excludes live performances and conversations.
It includes all the obvious forms of media creation and distribution, interactive and static, ranging from the lowly sticky note through the realm of videos, films, the internet, wireless, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, billboards, films, radio, television, cable, apps -- the works. It includes real-time conversations in a variety of digital, transmitted, or wired media; Those conversations can be time-shifted, one-way, group, or staged. And there is much more to this vast territory.
You can't pay attention to them all, but for "presence" you must be in a conversation. You can pay attention to a newspaper; social media is about relationships.
Presence is creation. The very nature of conversations creates streams of content, and the streams of conversational content form the backbone of social media, sewn together by the threads of personal relationships. It's back and forth. It's the distribution of media objects to distribution lists. It's the collection of profile information by eager gleaners. It's more than just paying attention -- it's "being there."
Even in a remote, time-shifted way, the essence of social media is the routine squeaking of the crickets, the entire chorus of all crickets, sawing away into the night on an infinity of networks.