Guest blogger working with Social Techs Marketing

Are we losing our verbal skills? A college student poses compelling questions about social media & our future.

Social Media: The Influence on the Youth Generation

Now in the era of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, social media has impacted the youth generation (and all generations for that matter) on a global scale.  As a 20-year-old college student, I have witnessed these changes, and will be the last generation to have known the world before the explosion of social media.  As such, I question whether the effects of social media have been for better or for worse, and examine different, key elements of social media.  This is a discussion of my discovery.

A Transformation of Social Networks.

Guest blogger and summer intern Brian Hersh working with Social Techs Marketing

To begin, I would like to briefly discuss one of the remarkable components that social media has forever impacted, social networking.  Once upon a time, social networks were dependent on the time and effort that individuals put into keeping up with one another via written letters, face-to-face meetings, or at least phone calls and email.  Not anymore.  The social media movement has made staying in touch very simple, and in turn has enabled us to expand our social networks.  As living testimony of this change, I will share a quick example.

Growing up in Colorado (before the social media revolution I might add), I was best friends with Myles, a kid who lived a few houses down from me.  When I was nine-years-old, our family moved to Atlanta, and I did not keep up with Myles, ultimately losing all forms of his contact information. The years went by, and eventually I completely forgot about him.  Then, the Facebook era came, and one day when I signed into my profile, I had a friend request from my old buddy Myles, who I had not seen or spoken to in ten years.

Had it not been for Facebook and social media, I may never have talked to Myles again.  But, all he needed was my first and last name, and he easily found me in the massive world of social media.

Social media’s ability to find any person in the world and add them to your social media network is undeniable.  But, is a large social network always benign?  I often find myself annoyed at the countless number of Facebook friends I barely know or have only met once and will most likely never talk to again.  At this moment in time, I have 744 friends, and I would be lucky if I actually kept up with a tenth of that number.

However, this is just a minor nuisance.  The real issue I have with social media networking is the impersonal feeling that all too often accompanies Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels.  Today it seems that the average Joe would rather send a text, tweet, or Facebook wall post than make a phone call or write a personal letter or email.  Sure, there is a place for texts, tweets, and wall posts, but they are starting to take over the field of communication, and that is not a good thing.  Outside of the immediate insincerity social media channels can cause (ending a relationship over a text or wishing someone a happy birthday via Facebook), I sometimes question what greater implications may lie ahead.  Will mankind eventually lose our adept verbal skills?  Will we become entirely dependent on social media?  These seem like absurd possibilities, but only time will tell.

Power of the Profile.

Okay, so after my last critique, you are probably thinking that I have some serious grudge against social media, which is actually far from the case.  I would like to switch gears and discuss one of my favorite aspects of social media, the profile.  We all have them: Facebook profiles, Twitter profiles, LinkedIn profiles, etc.  But, why are they so important and such a great feature?  Profiles give everyone a chance to strengthen their identity, express how they are feeling, tell where they are or what they have been doing, and provide details on their favorite hobbies, background information, and just about anything else you can think of.  While this one also goes both ways, as it is impossible to fully represent an individual on paper, or in this case, on the web, it does a pretty good job.  You can even post pictures and movies of where you have been, making social media a great way to show your life to your social media world.  Overall, the profile is a huge plus.

Great Support System

The final element of social media I would like to examine (one which is often overlooked) is the unique ability social media has to function as a support system.  While not as frequently used, social media as a support system can be very touching for an individual.  On more than one occasion, I have seen and written on the Facebook wall pages of friends and family who had recently lost a loved one.  The sheer number of people who left personal comments and mentioned that they were in their thoughts and prayers is enough to give anyone the goose bumps.  I genuinely feel this is a great and often disregarded aspect of social media.

All in All.

Social media certainly has its up and down sides, but regardless, it is here to stay.  At the end of the day, there are no definite answers to the social implications of social media on how we interact with one another.  One day we will look back, and it will be clear how it all played out, but for now, we are just going to have to go forward.  All we can really do is pay attention and question where it is that we are moving to, knowing where we came from.

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