written by Herm Cardona, 32°
Retention of existing members has been identified as a key to increasing membership in the Scottish Rite (and in any organization, for that matter). And meaningful participation is one of the keys to retention. Social networks, like Facebook and MySpace, are a great way to stimulate and encourage participation, and Masons now have there own unique, social network: the Freemason Network, www.freemasonnetwork.net.
The Freemason Network is hosted by the Supreme Council, 33°, A.&A.S.R., S.J., and is partially-funded and beta-tested by the Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty (WSB) Club. It is not only fun to use the site and participate in it activities, but also it can be an invaluable tool in retaining new members and getting inactive ones involved again. Unlike other social networks, the Freemason Network is only for Freemasons in good standing. Hence, the topics are of Masonic interest, and there is no spam or annoying applications. Once a brother joins the Freemason Network and his Masonic credentials are verified, he is immediately empowered with the ability to exchange ideas and information with almost 9,000 Masons worldwide—and the numbers keep growing!
Some of the tools available include uploading pictures and videos, joining forums and groups, scheduling events, reading news, classifieds, and Grand Lodge forums, reading or creating blogs, making new friends, and staying in touch with old ones. In short, anything you can do in a commercial social network with the added benefit of a Freemason-only, private, and fraternal environment.
In terms of Masonic education, the Freemason Network can be extremely useful tool when you’re conducting preliminary research into a subject of Masonic interest, particularly when inquiring into the history and practices of Freemasons in other countries.
The bottom line is that with close to 9,000 users worldwide, the Freemason Network is hard to beat as a way of establishing personal contact with like-minded Masons pursuing research in the same areas of study.
The Freemason Network is also a dynamic forum, where ideas are exchanged between members, literally at “warp” speeds. Such dynamic exchanges are the root of advanced learning, but there is also serendipity, which takes place when you find material that you didn’t know you were looking for. This may be a characteristic of the Internet at large, but in the Freemason Network, with its Mason-only population, the chances of such findings are multiplied.
Finally, are you enrolled in the Scottish Rite Master Craftsman I or II Programs? Groups and chats, formal and informal, exist that can turn your MCP experience into a collective learning effort far richer than going at it alone. (And it’s a good way to get hints for some of the tough questions!) The same applies to many grand lodge education programs.
In short, the Freemason Network is more than a social network. It is a valuable tool for students and researchers of Masonic history and philosophy while also providing an opportunity to connect with others interested in the same subjects worldwide. When are you going to register and become a member of the Network?