Social Media

We know the problems with social media (my own personal issues, as well as the world’s–privacy, egotism, et cetera). But social media is actually one of the best tools journalists have today.

Facebook is seen as a viable business platform, but it isn’t much use for spreading news quickly and accurately. Facebook will let you share with your friends and promote to your fans, but it’s hard to reach outside of your usual social bubble without significant eddort and promotion.

Twitter and Tumblr have it right in this respect: they allow “followers”–strangers who are interested in what you’re saying have the option to bookmark you and be automatically updated whenever you have a new post. Then they can share it with people who have followed them, who may or may not have similar interests. This means your information is spread faster and more effectively than if you only told your closest friends (as on Facebook, or the ancient platform of MySpace).

In turn, when you have gained a significant following on these even-more-social (relative to Facebook) social media sites you will become more determined to provide better content for your audience. There’s no blogger in existence who hasn’t apologized to their readership at least once for not posting often enough. So you’re more motivated, and at the same time your content will be refining itself–what does your audience want? what are they interested in? what will they come back for, what will they share? The content will (hopefully) increase in quality and be consistent in volume. Twitter, Tumblr and like sites are perfect for finding your online niche. Post what you’re interested in, get feedback, refine, rinse, repeat.

In the end, keep Facebook for personal connections–but make sure to use everything else out there to your advantage.

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Paper Plate Culture

Twitter is not my thing. I’ve known this for years, and that is why I never had one–until half an hour ago. The first sentence of this post is an echo of my first tweet. https://twitter.com/JournaIistish

Twitter enables people to be connected–it lets common people feel closer to celebrities; it lets jokes be passed around; hoaxes and rumors are perpetuated; information and life and art is shared. But Twitter, and its cousins, are contributing to what I call “Paper Plate Culture”. Generation Y (that’s anyone born from the late 80s to 2000) has grown up in a very advantageous stage of a technological revolution: cell phones are commonplace, TVs (usually more than one) in every home, personal computers for every member of the family. And as our technology evolves, so does the way we interact with the environment–and the way it interacts with us. Twitter, Vines, Instagram, and even Tumblr (the “Twitters” of videos, photography, and blogs, respectively) all serve basically the same purpose: condense information. Only see what you want, when you want, and as little of it as possible while still being entertained.

Condensing information lets you know more about the world, and faster; the sacrifice comes in quality. Now, a Vine (a video capped at a mere six seconds) can be funny, enjoyable, informative, even artistic and amazing. But after you watch a six second loop a few times, share it with a few friends, where does it go? Virtually, nowhere. It will sit on the internet collecting views, then fade into vagueness and virtual dust. Tweets can be poignant, heartbreaking, thrilling, evocative–but after retweeting, how often do you remember it? Unless some scandal arises, most of these tiny posts are soon forgotten. Paper Plate Culture: use something once, throw it away.

Paper plates have their place–perfect for picnics! great when you don’t want to do dishes!–but imagine never being able to eat off a real plate again. You’re relegated to having breakfast, lunch, and dinner off of a pulverized, de-pulpled and flattened tree carcass for the rest of your life. It’s a bit sad, isn’t it?

Brevity saves money, time, effort, and forces you to think extremely critically about what is necessary when you share something you’ve created. However, there is always going to be a corner of the market who hold onto that silly nostalgia of wanting to keep things, to contribute to or witness a part of history that will last; those who want to savor every meal using fine china and silverware and cloth napkins and candles and they’re frivolous for sure, but they’re also going to love every last bite.