I think by now it should go without saying that I am a big fan of all things social media. Aside from the fact that the general field of social media is at the core of what I do professionally (I’m the director of social media and communications at Quinte Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and I teach social media skills to business students at Loyalist College), I’ve always been fascinated by the power and potential that tools such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter have to connect people and share information. When I think back to my own relationships and experiences that I can attribute to social media engagement, I’m amazed. When I consider that impact that these tools have made the world over? I’m in awe.
Right now, my absolute favourite thing happening in the world of social media are the live (and very frequent) updates being sent by Col. Chris Hadfield from the International Space Station (ISS). Every day, Hadfield sends beautiful images from space back to Earth and shares them with us via his Twitter account and Facebook page. He also keeps his followers updated on what it’s like to live in space, answers questions and even does livestreams, all thanks to the power of social media.
Hadfield’s mission began on December 19th, 2012 when he joined the crew on the ISS. He officially assumes command today (!!!), becoming the first ever Canadian commander of the ISS (BOO YAH!), a position he will hold until he returns home on May 14th, 2013. While he’s not the first astronaut to tweet from space (those honours go to Mike Massimino for the first assisted tweet and Timothy Creamer for the first live tweet), he’s using the tools at his disposal to bring the wonder and science of space back to Earth in amazing new ways.
In my opinion, Hadfield’s mission use of social media is an outstanding example of the creative potential of social media. He’s sharing unique first-hand experiences and expert information from and about outer space in a way that’s easily accessible. Think about that for a second. Before social media, I don’t know how often we saw the terms “outer space” and “easily accessible” in the same sentence.
Following his tweets, posts and videos provides a thrilling look at space, the likes of which many of us have only ever been able to imagine before now. To browse his Facebook gallery of stunning images of the Earth’s surface is a bit surreal, but also helps to provide us with a whole new perspective and, hopefully, appreciation of the planet we call home. With each new photo, I fall in love with Earth a little more.
And if that wasn’t awesome enough, don’t even get me started on those livestreams! Groups of school-aged kids are able to talk to, and ask questions of, a real astronaut WHILE HE’S IN SPACE? I mean, the only thing cooler would be getting to be there in person. If this doesn’t stir up even a bit of passion for the universe in people (and especially an interest in science among the younger generation) then I don’t know what will.
If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favour and follow the rest of Col. Chris Hadfield’s adventure on Twitter and Facebook. Also keep an eye on his mission page on the Canadian Space Agency’s website for news and updates (such as links to upcoming livestreams). If you ask me, there’s never been a better time to fall in love with outer space.
Watch Col. Chris Hadfield’s change of command LIVE via UStream TODAY (Wednesday, March 13th, 2013) at 5:10 pm EDT right HERE
While I could see how it might sound that way, nothing about this post has been sponsored. I’m just honestly enthralled by how Chris Hadfield is using social media and wanted to share it. All photos have been used with permission, with credit to Chris Hadfield/NASA, @Cmdr_Hadfield.