We’ve heard it again and again from our elders: texting and tweeting—or twitting as I’ve heard it called—is merely ruining the younger generation’s language skills. I will say I’m one of the worst “texters” out there in terms of using slang like dah, dnt, nah, etc. and yet, as you can see, I do have the ability to string words together. In fact, I’ve written a manuscript or two. Some say it is making us antisocial. Instead of talking on the phone, we prefer to text, tweet, or Facebook chat, and some college professors seem to attest Facebook is rotting our brains. But is this really true?
- Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, serve as wonderful networking tools. Social media allows us to keep in touch with someone who we may not consider a friend, but instead a professional acquaintance. Social networking sites have expanded our network of people. It opens up the possibility of connecting with business contacts, colleagues and old classmates, some of which may be aspiring writers and now you have found a critique partner in them (a wonderful thing for an aspiring novelist, I might add).
- Consider all the ways in which we can get our message out with social media. Let me use an example. A debut novelist, even if published by one of the big six like Random House or Simon and Schuster, isn’t given much publicity. They may push out a press release or two and offer placement in the annual catalog, but nothing major. As a “newbie”, they still need to prove themselves and become more well known before a large house will take a bigger chance on them. Through social media, a writer can network themselves through Twitter and other online social groups. There is a huge network of writers out there willing to promote one another’s books on their blogs, host giveaways, and conduct reviews, and some even go as far as to give advice and critiques. Sounds like a great opportunity if you ask me!
- Now let’s consider the advertising side of things. A shining beacon in the advertising world is the Old Spice brand, a brand that at one point was only used by old men and shunned by the younger generation. Through their viral campaigns, they have veered 180 degrees, now appealing to a younger audience. If you haven’t seen any of their videos of a deep-voiced man in a towel, you really should. “All women want him, and all men want to be him”, is their message. This is one of the best examples of how social media can now be utilized by advertising agencies. Your message can reach millions in seconds. Consider the cost of making a YouTube video versus buying ad space through search engines or high traffic web sites? With these savings and other advertising techniques, advertising can reach a huge audience quickly and effectively through social media.
- Let’s toss TV shows into the mix. Although not a part of social media per se, social communities have cropped up within ABC and ABC Family’s websites, to name a few. Have you noticed, even if you missed an episode of your favorite show, some channels have taken it upon themselves to offer certain episodes online? I’d call that convenient. This provides people with the ability to catch up on their favorite shows at their convenience online while offering social media tie-ins. Most sites encourage conversations about the shows through Twitter hashtags, blogs, and Facebook pages, typically all available via links contained on the same page that people are watching the episode on! This greatly encourages social media conversations and makes it that much easier to feed our social media habits.
- There’s an app for that. Do you constantly lose business cards? There is an app where you can scan a bar code on the back of a paper business card and the information will be saved within your phone. There’s another that will inform you what that pesky song with a name you couldn’t remember is. All these devices make our lives easier. Many offer social media aspects to them as well, so that when you do finally figure out the name of that song, you can post it to Twitter or Facebook to let your social ecosystem know exactly what song has been driving you crazy. Now granted, there are some apps that are as pointless as they come. Why have a fake beer glass on your phone that fills and empties (I discovered that app courtesy of my younger brother)?
Social media has changed the way in which we interact and do things, but could it truly be ruining us? With every decision, there are always positive and negative aspects. Are we truly becoming antisocial? If that’s the case then there is nothing wrong with taking a break from social media, but that is at the discretion of the individual. Even so, I can acknowledge that I’ve built some friendships through social media and have found invaluable critique partners for my work (There is only so much family can help with when looking for an honest critique unless of course, they happen to be a brutally honest novelist). It’s just like that saying, “Even good things in excess can have a negative effect.” There is no denying social media has become a revolution, but as to the extent of how it affects an individual, that’s one’s own choice.