Category Archives: social media

How Facebook saved the planet

I’m going to be honest with you guys. I didn’t vote on November 2nd. I didn’t know who was running and frankly, I didn’t care. I don’t even know what mid-term elections for Congress even are.

I wasn’t alone however in my choice to not vote. Only 9% of eligible Gen Y voters decided to vote. Why was there such a low turn out compared to the 2008 Obama presidential election? I think it’s because politics have gotten ugly.

There is no bigger turn-off for Gen Yers than conflict.   My generation might as well be called “Generation Labrador.” We are the idealistic, bleeding heart-ed, tail waggers of America’s history. We want nothing more than to text all of our 754 Facebook friends throughout the day. We love our parents, ride our bikes to our non profit jobs, eat organically, and buy handmade items off of Etsy and Ebay. We’re not exactly hippies, but we’re pretty close to it.

The angry political debates of 2010 don’t really matter to me. Why the ambivalence? Well, for one thing, I hate yelling. I also hate the combative nature those both parties have brought to the table.

Two years ago, the Obama administration promised us hope. It promised something new and shiny and bright and it used social media and snappy art to deliver that promise to my generation. As much as I still support Obama, he’s just not pulling his weight any more and that hope has lost its luster.

 I don’t think we need politicians to change the world. I don’t want to vote because I don’t like the people I’m voting for. I would rather just do it myself. Gen Y is changing the world through its own individual actions. We’re promoting sustainability through non profits, buying from small mom and pop stores, wearing vintage clothing, biking to work, and supporting our local city co-ops. The Internet has opened a ton of doors for us that have led to philanthropy and one-man virtual businesses.

We don’t need to vote in order to change the world anymore. Facebook can just do it for us.

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Social Media and TMI

This evening, while eating dinner and cyber-stalking my “friends” on Facebook, I came across the following status updates:

“My cat just pissed in my shoes.”

“My boyfriend just dumped me 😦 ”

“I have gas.”

Now, sharing interesting tidbits via social media is all well and good, but lately, both Facebook and Twitter have become minefields of ridiculous oversharers. It’s as if the world cannot deal with anything going on in their lives until they’ve reached for their phones and texted or tweeted about it.

It can be wonderful to have hundreds of virtual and real life friends flock to your aid in a matter of minutes. But what if this immediate rescue response prevents us from being able to save ourselves from emotional conflict? What if we stop being able to talk ourselves off of the bridge?

Awhile ago, I dropped my phone in the toilet. Unable to constantly check Facebook or tweet about my where-abouts or text my friends, I went a little crazy and locked myself in the apartment with my computer. Sitting in my bedroom infront of the monitor, I was able to stay connected to the world, but since I didn’t have the on-the-go luxury of my phone, I could not participate in it. Without the instant updates on friends, news, etc, I felt lost, even if it was just for the four days I waited to receive a new phone.

Have we forgotten what it’s like to just be quiet? There’s this constant stream of communication going on all of the time and most of it I feel is just white noise. I mean, does anybody seriously care  that my dog is constipated? No.

And when does the line between your social media life and your real life begin to blur? There is this talk about “self branding,” creating a distinct, marketable image of yourself on the Internet for employers to find. But how much of your Internet self is real? Or is it just false campaigning and advertisement?

We have to be careful about losing ourselves in this world of new technology and social media. We have to remember that face-to-face interaction is way better than texting and the real world, the world outside of your home, is much more interesting than reading about somebody else’s life through their blog. We also have to be concerned about our privacy. When does sharing become too much sharing? At what point do we stop and hold information back? What part of ourselves truly only belongs to us anymore?

Why Gen-Y Cannot Read Nonverbal Cues

2155644488_8918ab822a I am deeply unaware of how my body language comes off to other people. I am often told that I appear unapproachable, nervous, or bored. Crossed arms, fingers drumming on the countertop, a yawn, or a drink held directly in front of you all indicate negative feelings and send off a “don’t you dare come near me” vibe to all of the other people in the room.

I have recently been dating this guy who continually puts me in my place when body language is concerned. He will deliberately watch me intently every time we hang out and he has already picked up on some of my nervous tics that even I am oblivious to. “Oh, you’re scratching your neck. Am I making you nervous?” he’ll jokingly ask, “Oh, you’re biting your bottom lip again. And there you go with the leg tapping…”

Has our culture become so devoid of facial interaction that we do not know how to pick up on the innate, physical cues anymore? And if so, what kind of nonverbal  messages are we giving without even knowing it?

A recent study suggests that Gen Y have not appropriately developed the “silent fluency” that comes with face-to-face social interaction. Thanks to the 2,272 texts we send out each month, Facebook, Twitter, and all of the other social networking sites, we have forgotten how to interact with other humans at the most primal of levels. We know what “OMG” and “FML” and “LOL” mean, but we cannot read an eye-roll or skewed lips correctly.

And what does this mean for future generations? Will humans lose all sense of nonverbal communication because of technology or will we simply invent new ways of bodily communication to suit the times?