You can talk to your favorite celebrity, make friends from across the world, spark social and political movements, and share your every thought due to the advent of social media. We have more avenues to communicate, a larger stage, and seemingly more to say than ever. In a society where our primary communication seems to have shifted to likes, retweets, and followers it begs the question: how has social media changed communication?
Social media has created a sense of urgency in our communication that has not been seen before. Snapchat, one of the most prominent social media platforms, is an app where people can send messages and photos to one another that disappear after a certain time period. This requires people to respond immediately or risk the message disappearing. Gone are the days of sitting and agonizing over every word that you type out to someone before hitting send. This sense of urgency though is not limited to just Snapchat, with the added feature of being able to go “live” on almost every platform. Live features show us an insight into what people are doing in real time. We don’t have to wait to see your vacation photos when you are streaming your time on the beach. This ability to connect with everyone in real time creates this need and compulsion to let everyone know what you are up to immediately, causing you to post photos from your vacation before you even get back home. Just think about how far communication has come, from letters that would take weeks to get to someone, to showing everyone what you are doing at the moment.
Social media’s inherent sense of urgency has also required people to adapt how they share messages. With over 330 million users Twitter has made a huge impact in communication in allowing users 280 characters (formally 140) to convey their thoughts or message. Some experts are now arguing that Twitter has changed people’s attention spans and that a growing number of people are no longer willing to read more than 280 characters. We now not only expect information quickly, but we also want it brief. This need to keep things brief has also given rise to the abbreviation of words that have worked their way not only into our writing, but also our vernacular. We are communicating more than ever before, and faster than ever before, but are we actually saying less?
Communicate Across Geography, Across Cultures, Across Languages
Social media has changed the way we communicate, but also who we communicate with. It has given people the ability to communicate across geography, cultures, and languages creating an interconnected community. It has brought our attention to injustices in the world, the resiliency of the human spirit, tales of great courage, and mobilized movements. Our world has never felt more connected and social media has allowed people to communicate with one another and empathize with one another in their shared humanity. Social media has sparked movements across the country and started cultural conversations that are completely vulnerable and transparent such as the #MeToo movement, the mobilization of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March, March for Our Lives, etc. Due to the power of social media, these movements have ignited national conversations and debates. Social media is not only changing the rate at which we communicate, how we communicate, but also what we are communicating about.
Social media and communication can be a tricky topic to navigate and a tight rope to walk. How do you integrate valuable and meaningful communication into the changed world of social media? How do you communicate and play to the strengths of social media? We are constantly communicating in this modern and dynamic world and companies need qualified professionals that can master these complex topics.
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