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ZSpace and ZSpacers


From my surfing around the new ZNet, ZSpace in particular, Ive felt a certain cautiousness from people’s profiles and writings. So I thought Id write about it and put it out there for others. It feels that people are being somewhat guarded in revealing much about themselves, their thoughts and feelings about day to day life. I understand that there could be several reasons for this, some of the few I could think of include-
  • That new ZNet features are still being introduced and hence people are perhaps holding off on involving themselves with the new systems until they are fully operational;
  • that ZNet being a site of serious political, social and economic analysis and discussion that people are limiting contributions to only issues of importance in such areas;
  • It could that people who use ZNet have lives that are only dominated by such concerns and that their writings on such topics truly reflect their thoughts and feelings on a daily basis;
  • Users see ZNet as a website for their social justice actions and writings and use other websites such as Myspace or Facebook for socialising and personal expression;
  • ZSpace does not yet have enough active users and so any perceived reservations on users behalves is an illusion due to smaller numbers than expected.
  • None or all of the above
Im not desiring to know the intricate details of people’s lives and feelings (though if people do want to share I encourage them), nor am I desiring everyone on ZSpace to become great friends. What Im sensing (and this could very well be my insecurities projected onto the mostly nameless and faceless Z users) is a self-censoring, a relative silence when it comes to communicating and expressing themselves in more personal, daily ways.

While this isnt problematic by itself as such, considering that ZSpace is mostly a means for political and activist engagement, I do think that a large part of the success of other social networking sites such as Facebook is partly due to them providing forums for people to express themselves and share their thoughts and feelings in a safe but public way. So I think that the ultimate success of ZSpace and the many new features on ZNet is predicated on people becoming comfortable sharing themselves (in whatever capacity they deem appropriate) to create an engaged online community, which I feel requires interaction beyond polite notes and the semi-regular posting of involved political writings.
Not because such things are unimportant or not welcome, but because such actions are always filtered parts of our self, requiring time to create, leaving quiet voids in activity on ZSpace as people scurry away for a few days to write something they hope is worthy to sit next to the latest Chomsky article. Which again is all applaudable and I will be doing the same myself, but to attract people to ZSpace it needs to feel exciting, to have a buzz of activity associated with it, to be welcoming and personable, to allow people to see that activists and Leftists have fun, can joke and chat about the mundane just as much as they can about an ideology or world crisis. 
ZSpace is exciting in that it has the potential to achieve a balance- that thoughtful, concerned people can share an essay or discuss an issue but also talk about a favourite band or sport or movie. Facebook and the like are somewhat vacuous because they lack any real concern about ways to improve our world, and ZSpace and its users should be mindful not to compensate too much in the other direction, providing only in-depth blogs on the various problems in today’s societies. For doing that misses that enjoyment and fun are part of our movement and in many ways why we seek social change. ZSpace offers ways to engage with people new to the wider movement and provides a means to engage with progressive ideas, actions and people hopefully in a welcoming way, allowing involvement at their own pace. What I hope to see is a balance of creating a true sense of community and an exchanging political works.

Thats why Im excited about ZSpace, in that I hope to make bonds with people struggling to change the crappy nature of the world, and learning not only from them but also about them. I hope to feel part of a community of people moving towards better ways of living and I think for that to be a success we need to embrace the resource/tool of ZSpace rather than feel intimidated or limited by it and hence only posting essays and articles.
I hope my feelings are due to ZSpace being new, and I have already started interacting and engaging with people around the globe, but I thought Id share my thoughts and hope that it might spark people to correct my perceptions if Im mistaken, or misunderstanding the purpose of ZSpace or if Im right to encourage others to share and embrace the possibilities.

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