I've decided my new job is be the commentator on this whole social media revolution and how it has changed our culture. We'll start with the most entertaining influences:
Vernacular -- have you notice that we have a whole new set of expressions? We are no longer just friends with people. No, now the noun is a verb. We "friend" people. Back in high school English had I turned in a paper about friendship where I "friended" everyone in the story, I would have it turned back to me with a lot of red marker on it. Don't forget that you can also "de-friend" or "un-friend". We don't befriend anyone these days. Maybe we could use that one? I need to you to "be-friend" me ... hmm ... still a verb, huh. Then we have Twitter where we have turned into a flock of "Tweeters". I thought Tweety was a yellow bird that Sylvester chased for dinner. I really didn't know humans could Tweet. I thought we talked. Wow! I guess I don't know anything, do I?
Head Shot -- just 10 years ago, the only time you needed a head shot was for the corporate annual report. No one cared much about their head shots. I can promise you this: The CEO in that annual report did not ever post a picture of his bare chest with a wink. Now both men and women seem to think nothing of using everything from weird, little cartoons to bras to post in place of a standard head shot. Like everyone else, I like creativity and I wouldn't want to see a bunch of conservative head shots. (And I know I've said this a hundred times already.) But how is it that we've gone from creative and interesting profile pictures to just seedy and why did you use that shot? I've never seen so many people falsely believe that a hairy chest or a bikini make a great profile picture -- and this is for their businesses! And even if it were just personal, we seem to have a generation just eager to show the world their bikini bods.
Social Media for Children -- this might create a debate, which is healthy, but my teenage son does not get a Facebook or Myspace of any other place page until he's an adult. I can't describe how many different reasons why he is not going to build his own page. For the sake of argument, though, let me list just a handful: predators, bullies, weirdo adults who pose as bullies, bad judgment, harassment, predators (oh, yeah I said that one), bad judgment (yes, said that one too ... but remember teenagers are both hormonal monsters and their undeveloped frontal lobes just beg for stupidity). While you might argue that he needs to learn these tech skills, let me argue back. He has tech skills. He is the one who fixes my computer when it's going mad. Heck, the boy fixes the school's computers too. He knows what social media is -- and he doesn't need to get involved in it. No, it won't screw him up for life. Will it keep him out of all of the potential messes that it can cause young people, well let me repeat, bad judgment. Yes!