The Gustavian Weekly

Communication Breakdown | The Gustavian Weekly

By Lindsay Lelivelt Features Editor | October 30, 2009 | Features

3975091248_4dcb2fe291_oSocial media is taking over the world. Or that’s how it seems as of late. With social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, Blogger and Tumblr, social media is everywhere.

But if social media is all around us, what exactly is it?

Social media is media for the people, by the people. It provides new opportunities to create and communicate ideas with people around the globe. It takes the emphasis away from big organizations and places it in the hands of the masses.
Social media emphasizes the human need for social interaction and provides a universal outlet for communication. Said communication can be accomplished through blogging sites such as blogger.com, livejournal.com, xanga.com and typepad.com. With these sites, individuals can create their own profile with which they can blog about their opinions, experiences and interests. A blog is a sort of Internet-based journal, in which the users update and post entries on a regular basis.

“I think social networking is great. There is something nice about being connected with people who aren’t physically in front of you at the time. I have to say, sites such as Facebook and Myspace have truly created ways for people to stay connected, get reacquainted, as well as meet new people,” Sophomore Communication Studies Major Chris Duhaime said.

A micro-blog is just like a blog, but on a smaller scale. Websites like Twitter and Tumblr are two examples of micro-blogs. Twitter, in its broadest definition, is a website that allows users to post updates much like Facebook statuses.

I think Twitter is great. There is something completely unique about it. I also like Twitter because it limits people to 140 characters. This means that a tweet will never be longer than 140 characters so messages are short, sweet and to the point. No crap to weed through. I think this site offers a lot in terms of communicating with the world on what they are thinking,” Duhaime said.

Not everyone is on the Twitter boat, though. “Twitter is probably the worst concept ever, and I’m not quite narcissistic enough to believe people really care what I’m doing every minute of every day. I’ll leave that to Chad Ochocinco,” Junior Political Science Major Hassie Samaraweera said.

Other students agree with Samaraweera. “I will never ever understand Twitter. Are people that egotistic that they believe that meaningful or even remotely interesting things can be said in 140 characters?”  Sophomore Physics Major Dan Enright said.

Social media not only provides a place for individuals to voice their opinion, but it is also a way to share the opinions of others. Websites such as Digg.com, delicious.com and the StumbleUpon application make it possible for users to discover and rate web pages, photos and videos. The personalized recommendation engines make use of peer and social networking standards.

StumbleUpon is just another procrastination tool for me. One that is informative and fun. My favorite topics are photography, cats, music, clothing and cats. What to do with unwanted vinyl, projects, crafts—all of these things keep me entertained when other things should be getting done,” Junior English Major Karina McQuarrie said.

Other students agreed. “[It’s] is completely customizable. It takes me to corners of the Internet I would never otherwise experience and only to sites that pertain to my interests,” Enright said.

Other social networking sites such as Myspace or Facebook allow for more than the sharing of one’s thoughts. They combine social interaction with status updates, notes, applications, chatting and personal message sending.

“As promising as Facebook is for connecting people, quickly disseminating information and serving as a vehicle for social change, it also has significant issues in how it is employed.  The degree of navel gazing it inspires is shocking. … The time spent on social networking gazing at our own navels and the navels of others talking about the innocuous details of our lives could be spent more productively keeping informed about the world and engaging in deliberative discourse with our real neighbors,” Chair of the Communication Studies Department Leila Brammer said.

Many social networking sites serve as a way for people to enhance their “personal brands”. Personal branding is a way in which people associate themselves with certain brands, products, ideas, lifestyles, bands and stereotypes.

“In social networking sites, we attempt to ‘brand’ ourselves for those we actually interact with on a daily basis and those we virtually wish to interact with. But as we ‘brand’ ourselves, others also ‘brand’ us. … We lose some of the control.  In real life, I can choose to dress and look a certain way, and you can choose to accept or reject the look. In the digital world of social networking, I can really choose to dress and look a certain way, but your rejection or acceptance is much more public,” Brammer said.

Even though social media seems unavoidable, some are able to resist the temptation.

Samaraweera doesn’t have a Facebook. “I realize I’d become an addict. Not to mention pictures of myself with little to no clothing, ones of me sleeping with a life size bear and others of me dressed as [a] Powerpuff Girl never need to be seen by my future employer,” Samaraweera said. “I sometimes feel like my life has no meaning [without one], but other than that there’s no problem. Honestly I will admit it would help to stay in contact with those friends [who] don’t live around here, but anybody I really care enough about I can always call.”

It seems as though social media, though designed to help us better connect with one another, might be doing more harm than good.

“For some, their social worth is measured via ‘friends’ or followers rather than real live human beings who are their real neighbors. Social networking is another step away from our communities in which we actually live.  Television moved us more inside, so we had less contact with neighbors. Video games, the Internet and other technology moved us further away. Social networking is interesting in that it can connect us with ‘friends’ in China while disconnect us further from the people who live down the hall or across the backyard,” Brammer said.

Whether it’s helpful or harmful in the long run, social media has secured quite a hold on the ways in which we communicate with one another—and it seems as though it is here to stay.

19 Comments

Comments are the sole opinion of the visitor who submitted the comment and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author of the article, its editors, or The Gustavian Weekly or Gustavus Adolphus College as a whole.

  1. read this says:

    Did you notice on that pie graph that there are people of 65 years of age using Facebook. That’s kind of creepy.

  2. The increase in age demographic on facebook has made it a great way for businesses to connect with their customer base. Very informative post. I enjoyed it.

  3. brandon webb says:

    I surprised LinkedIn wasn’t mentioned in this article. It really has a ROI for the time used to setup and connect to professional peers.

    I really think we’re seeing the beginning to the end of Twitter. It has been flooded with marketing which has pushed away many of its “real” userbase.

    I think peer trading is another growing area not covered. It started with ebay and is growing into facebook, amazon, P2Pspot etc. The “green” fad also helps push these social marketplaces.

  4. Julian Yew says:

    Great info. Easy to understand. Thanks for sharing the knowledge

  5. Allan Hall says:

    Interesting article even if a little dated. I was working on my photography business http://www.allanhallphotography.com and researching online social systems to try to reach my core customers more effectively and this article shows exactly what I was discovering. The rise of social networking is not just a young person’s game!

  6. brian james says:

    Interesting read even though I wish you would have focused more on facebook and less on the others. I am researching social networking/facebook and how it can affect my business http://www.tartufiunlimited.com and trying to decide the best way to effectively reach social circles to gain clients and this writeup does help me think outload about certain options. Social networking is exploding and sooner we all accept it and take advantage, the better!

  7. bobby says:

    thank you.nice sharing.i find this website at google. the social site is very popular now and can make more benefit. the most popular social site now is facebook

  8. Manjunath says:

    Informative article. With social online tools, people are connected more than ever. The human interactions are stored in the cloud and could be accessed anytime. The recordings of human history was never so rich in terms of images, video, text etc.

    The net has become inseparable part of mankind and helping us to learn and grow through online social tools. Interestingly, The internet has become a platform to new breed of entrepreneurs.

  9. Kate says:

    Why wasn’t linkedIn mentioned

  10. Kim Bess says:

    Social media is here to stay, whether we embrace it or not. As with any new technology, there are positive applications and negative ones. With social media, we can be so caught up with it that it becomes a time waster, or we can focus on the positive aspects and build business relationships as well as keep in touch with family and friends. Although I don’t think I have much to tell the world on a daily basis, I’m learning use social media to further my business and keep in touch with my friends and family.

  11. Samantha Reveley says:

    Aside from the online marketing tools that most people take advantage of (e.g. adwords, pay per click advertising, seo, etc.), social networks/media are a great way to sell. IT’S FREE. It’s what everybody needs nowadays. Being social is not limited by time. It is very accessible to people of whatever age.

  12. Tom says:

    Your idea is good, but also very fresh.You let me know oneself.Thank you!

  13. Zane M says:

    I think that social media is pulling people more from the physical connectivity of other humans but at the same time the world around is going virtual.

    Virtual worlds, virtual friends, Virtual everything. Even advertising was taken to the web and in some cases more is spent online trying to catch the younger generations because they are all online.

    We can’t stop it until it really destroys something that society holds in high value. Physical connections slowly fell to the wayside and the hyped up new stories of diseases and sickness, can you blame them?

  14. Joel Walters says:

    It amazes me how big Facebook has become, and what is the go with Zuckerberg wanting to take over the internet? I don;t doubt that Facebook will do it, Googles already pooping their pants. Facebook in many peoples eyes started out as a cool place for kids and the younger generation to hang out, and it’s evolved into the dominant presence on the web.

  15. brandon seo says:

    When Time magazine’s Person of the Year 2010 is the biggest social network’s CEO, it goes to show that social media is sort of “taking over.” Interesting enough, about 10+ years ago, I was thinking about starting a “relationships management software” company because sometimes I wondered if we need more help with our relationships. For example, when getting into arguments with significant others, we always say things like “I told you last week …”, but our memories fail to remember and we get into arguments. If we record what we say like we do via email or Facebook Wall Posts, we have records…

    I’m not a fan of recording everything, but I’m less of a fan of arguing over things we can’t prove and just say it’s not worth recording.

    It’ll be interesting to see how relationships metamorph into the future…

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  17. Thomas Smith says:

    Thanks for article. It’s useful.

  18. Patrick says:

    Good informations on the various social media, very useful post and pleasant to read. Thanks for sharing this. I definitely learned something valuable.Must bookmark this blog so that I could come back for more future readings.

  19. Paul J. says:

    Loved the overview of social media. Im not sure if its good for the long term, i feel sometimes that people are connected by not really ‘connecting’. I guess it is helping to gather groups of people who have a similar interest. For example of have started up a support group for people suffering from colonic problems who are directed from http://realconstipationremedies.com It has done a lot of good to bring together like minded people.