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Social Media Revolution 2011

How many times have you heard the complaint that teenagers these days have no communication skills?  That you spend your whole day with your head buried in a cell phone checking people’s status updates? That you’re too concerned with what Kim Kardashian is tweeting about rather than wondering why US troops are still hanging out in the Middle East? How you could want to partake in an environment where there is no privacy and everyone’s business becomes your business?

In the library, I have had a HUGE number of adults come to me concerned with teens being incapable of communicating with each other or adults properly because they primarily talk via text messages and social networking sites.  They tell me that it is shameful that The Oxford English Dictionary is adding words like OMG and LOL to their lists. How do I react? Dumbfounded.

Truthfully, I think I have an easier time talking to the teens in my library than I do the adults! And maybe that’s because I am totally guilty of this. To be honest, I hate talking on the phone. Phoneaphobia– literally, I avoid it at all costs. If I can send a text or write an email, I will. Face to face and phone conversations are a last resort. But does that mean I’m any less capable of face to face or over the phone communication? I don’t think so.  When I do have to make that dreadful phone call, it seems to go basically the same that an email or text would– it’s just not my style.

This 2009 poll shows that 50% of users think that technology hinders social skills– that “technology replaces face-to-face experiences critical for developing social skills with human-to-machine interactions.  The author of this article uses the example that men who hide behind social networking sites and text messages can’t talk to women face to face or they “screw up.”  Well, at least in my case, talking to someone that you find attractive can be intimidating and often does not run smoothly, especially in person, whether you Tweet on a regular basis or not… Is this a generational divide? Will this number shrink as more adults begin using these social media tools? Either way, the world of social networking is upon us and adults and teens alike should embrace what it has to offer rather than shun it for its apparent downfalls. Check out this video, I think you’ll be surprised at just big of an impact social media has on the world…

Did you know that Facebook actually has a lot to offer it users? Not only does it give me the chance to cyberstalk that boy I had a crush on in freshmen comp, but, because I use Facebook, I am significantly more likely to trust people than non-Facebook and non-internet users are. We Facebookers are also more likely to have close confidents with whom we can discuss important matters.  Not to mention that there is no other force driving global awareness like social networking. I have never been so aware of what is happening in the world as I am at 9 AM every morning when I check Facebook for the first time. We are past the point where social networking is a hindrance– social media no longer takes the places of human interaction but rather amplifies it.  So kids, I say, embrace your status update feed, tweet like there’s no tomorrow, and pepper your English papers with LOLs and OMGs because well, they’re in the dictionary and so they must be real words, right?… (okay, maybe not that last one).

Here are some books in the CLP catalog on the social media revolution. Its only going to get bigger, so read up now and stay ahead of the game…

-Julie, CLP Beechview

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