Facebook, Social Networking and Transylvania

Most people are involved in some form of social media, and most people have some type of connection to the Internet, or they have heard of either Twitter or of Facebook. When it comes to dealing with Transylvania, everything you knew about social media was wrong.

Most of the wonderful writers or bloggers who have run a blog on Transylvania, or any niche subject blog for that matter, can tell you that getting people to read and comment on your work is hard enough.  It is even harder when some readers look for and find problems where there are none.  Thanks to the strength of social networking sites, a lot of people can find your blog and comment on it.  And they'll do so — often when they feel strong emotions based on what they think the blog is about.

A good example was found on my Facebook page, I asked what the next post on Things about Transylvania should be about, and one of the followers commented, "the truth!"  At first, I wondered why they would say something like this; after all, this blog deals with history and writing it down, and possibly publishing it. It deals with writers and niche markets and what it is like to self-publish in a niche market.  This blog also deals with myths and how people see Transylvania in pop culture.

After a while, I thought about this statement a little bit more, and realized that they were talking about a perception of truth.  

I can say that before World War I, Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary.  Yes, this fact is true, but it is not the entire truth.  Hungary was part of the Austrian Empire by the time of the start of 1914.  A more correct statement would be that Transylvania was a part of the Empire of Austria.  Even this statement is not entirely correct, since the Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph I was referred to as:  His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, Francis Joseph I, by the grace of God Emperor of Austria; Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Illyria; King of Jerusalem, etc.; Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany, Crakow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Bukovina; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of the Upper & Lower Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, Oswiecin, Zator, Cieszyn, Friuli, Ragusa, Zara; Princely Count of Habsburg, Tyrol, Kyburg, Gorizia, Gradisca; Prince of Trent, Brixen; Margrave of the Upper & Lower Lusatia, in Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, etc.; Lord of Triest, Kotor, the Wendish March; Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia etc. etc. This is a long title, but it has two interesting points that make a person think about how people see Transylvania in terms of society today.

When Hungary became a part of Austria, in 1571, Transylvania became an independent principality, and it would later be annexed by the House of Hapsburg in 1867.  Transylvania became a part of the Empire, and The Grand Prince of Transylvania was the current Emperor.  Again, these are facts, and for some this is too complex, but some of the Hungarians who lived or live in Transylvania take the view that Transylvania was always a part of Hungary.  This view is not correct, but it is not entirely incorrect either.

The same is true with Romanians who live in Transylvania.  Many have taken the view that Transylvania should have always been a part of Romania because it was a part of Romania historically.  They argue that this goes back to the Roman and Dacian Empires.  Again, they are not incorrect, but the truth is harder to find.  There is not as much hard evidence for this to be used as an argument for the people of Romania.  Also, Romania itself was formed when the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia united in 1859 to become the country of Romania.  The same holds true with facts about who owns Bran Castle in Transylvania.  Most people can find out quite quickly that the government of Romania does not own it, and that, instead, it is owned privately.

Facebook and other social networking sites make these facts harder to share.  People can, in an instant, take up a viewpoint that is not correct when they do not understand the entire story.  They can say that they know the truth, but the fact remains that there is simply too much information out there to make an argument for anything relating to history, especially when it is linked to culture.

The grey area in regards to facts and history that Facebook has produced is amazing as more people simply take the time to skim over long articles and don't try to learn more about the larger picture.  Facebook is a good platform, in so far as it connects people to others in a way that they never could be before, but the challenge is that with subject matter such as Transylvania, where the history of the land changed quickly, social networking is a harsh place to get your word out.

If a person talks about Transylvania in terms of tourist areas, a less volatile topic, then most people will agree that it is a wonderful place to visit and want to learn more information about it.  The Romanian government wants people to go and see Transylvania since they make money on tourism.  They use social media very well, and there are many sites a person can go to that discuss touring Transylvania which the government of Romania has set up.

Facebook and other sites play an important role in getting information to a potential reader, but the greatest challenge is not getting the reader to a blog or website, but rather getting them to express a view and see that the truth they think might they know not be the entire truth.


Amy said…
why did you decide to write on Facebook? What does it do for your website and or bounce rate? What about for people who don't want to learn more.
Actually I created a page on Facebook, and this is where a lot of my readers can find me, but it's also where a lot of the quick readers find me as well.
John said…
Excellent post, please continue to write about Transylvania.
Johann said…
Please, publish again soon about Transylvania, I like the history aspect.