5 Ways Social Media Has Changed American Culture

america and social mediaI have to admit, this is the longest I’ve gone without blogging. For that I am sorry. But, I have made a commitment to blog more often, call it my early New Year’s resolution. Hold me to it!

For awhile now I have promised 5 Ways Social Media Has Changed American Culture. So with that, here we go:

1.       Cheap Birthdays

I would love to see how much money Hallmark has lost to the Facebook Birthday wishes, that are universally accepted as adequate. In all  honesty, every morning I look at the “Home” section of Facebook to wish people a Happy Birthday and accompany it with a ridiculous youtube video. The best part, people like it and accept it as a reasonable substitute to sending a card and taking the time to pick one out. In fact, I get more well wishes on facebook for my BDay then I ever did cards in the mail. I am not sure if that says anything about how much people really like me, but it sure made me feel good to be on the receiving end of all those kind words. No $2 to $5 dollar cards needed. I would call that a good ROI for social media. Money saved is money earned.

2.       Stalking Is Ok

Since when is it ok to “stalk people”? Apparently in modern American society nobody bats an eye when they come right out and say “I have been stalking you on Facebook!”  Really?! Ten years ago people would be uncomfortable and wondering how to go about getting a restraining order. Just the other day, I was in Starbucks and a guy got chatting in the female attendant behind the counter. They had a quick conversation about Kings Of Leon, who was being sold at the cashier counter in Starbucks. The conversation ended with the guy saying, and I quote; “hey what is your last name, I would love to stalk you on Facebook and Twitter!” Without batting an eye the girl gave out her name and seemed excited to be “stalked” by this stranger! This girl apparently did not see Silence Of The Lambs?

3.       Lousy Tableside Manners

Rebecca and I went out to dinner last night. While I was waiting for her to arrive, I looked around the resto and saw people texting, no doubt checking into Foursquare and taking pictures of their food. Am I guilty of all of these things? You bet! Think about our Grandparents generation! I remember how many times my Grandmother would yell at me for bring toys to the table. Dinner was sacred time. Today, it is about giving tips while you eat your 3 courses at a restaurant you really may or may not care about.

4.       Minimal effort to be a friend, ex-colleague, sibling, son or daughter

I spoke with my friend Rob yesterday. It had been months since either of us made any effort with each other That is ok, I was completely up to date with what he was doing and how is his birthday was. Likewise for him! See bullets 1 & 2 above.

5.       News Is Political & Politics Is Religious

Remember when you tuned into Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw (can someone find a better picture of Tom for his Wikipedia page? He looks more like a serial killer than a trusted news source) for your unbiased news? I call it vanilla news. News for what it was, nothing more! Simple!  Today everyone is part of the news, and because of that there are many times news items are delivered with a political or religious spin. The end result is a melted separation of church and state. In my opinion that is not a good thing. But with that said, the reality is American culture has a far more religious political landscape then it ever has in its history, and it started with Social Media making each and everyone one of us a news source.

The undertone of this post is a bit negative. But I wasn’t intending it to be. I in fact like being cheap, I don’t care if I am stalked and my table manners have always been suspect. Not to mention, Facebook makes keeping in touch just so darn easy. Lastly, I am personally not very religious, nor political. I don’t trust any politicians, there is always a gain for them. “Public service” is a silly term to use, there is always an underlying reason for everything they do. So I don’t have a strong opinion about bullet 5.

You could say that Social Media has made American culture a bit more lazy and maybe less moral? But think about this, Social Media has raised the value of a birthday card. Heightened the value of someone who respects a person’s privacy  online. Makes you more desirable when you are on a date if you leave your phone in your pocket. Take the time to call and visit those who are important to you. And finally, maybe worth more votes to the politician that is transparent about their reason for running public office, while leaving their religious views at the door. Is this a negative post, or a positive one? Do you agree or disagree? You decide, that is the beauty of Social Media. Like it or not, it is here to stay and is changing our lives and American culture.

9 responses to “5 Ways Social Media Has Changed American Culture

  • aj

    Wow I am guilty of a lot of these things. Lousy Tableside Manners being the one I need to change the most.Its hard to have a conversation with someone with your face buried in your phone checking sports scores lol.

  • stephen polinsky

    Social media and facebook specifically is re-defining the word “friend” and what it means to us. If someone tries to “friend” us on facebook, we can say “they’re not my friend and I wont accept or I’d like to be “friends” with them. Nothing rarely changes after we accept their invitation; it’s just an empty and meaningless online transaction. Alternatively, if you send a facebook “friend” an email and they don’t respond, we often think “I thought we were friends”, I guess not and maybe you “de-friend” them. When I was growing up, we did things with our friends and that’s what made the friendship, not sitting around deliberating whether to consummate or memorialize the friendship by clicking a button or not.

  • Julie

    Derek, this is great! As you anticipated, I would love to give my two cents. For starters, people now preface the majority of gossip with “I saw” rather than “I heard” because Facebook stalking has taken the place of talking behind peoples’ backs. Also, it has given a new benchmark for relationships because becoming “Facebook official” has now become an intregal part to the old state of our relationship discussion. It has also become a surprise-ruiner for things ranging from the mundane (outcome of television shows) to major events (engagements and pregancy news). Thanks to someone you know, I found out my best friend was engaged via someone else’s mobile upload before she was able to share the news. And finally, thanks to rampant photo tagging, it alters wardrobe decisions. I always make a conscious effort not to wear something I have been photographed in already if I know a camera is going to be around!

  • Sarah

    As a parallel to your “Lousy Tableside Manners” section, I can say Social Media has greatly changed how I select lodging. Today, I would never think of booking a hotel without first checking the TripAdvisor reviews for that facility. Likewise, the minute I walk into a hotel, I begin contemplating what I can post on TripAdvisor about this hotel to help other site users make an informed decision.

    This is definitely a departure from how most travelers interacted with the lodging industry even 5 years ago!

  • Tom Humbarger

    Derek – that’s a great start. Here’s another bullet from a ‘corporate’ perspective.

    Social Media has made it easier for companies to interact with their customers…that is if they want to or know how to do it or really care about their customers. The same tools used by customers (such as Facebook, Yelp, Google Places, Foursquare to name a few) also have rich business metrics that provide deeper insights into customer behavior than was previously available. Companies can now easily identify their most frequent and loyal socially media savvy customers, and provide very targeted promotions to drive repeat business.


  • Janet Aronica

    So, I think about the “stalking is ok” and it’s so true! There are people I haven’t talked to since I moved away from Rochester and I feel like I still know what’s going on in their lives because of Facebook. Ugh! I feel disgusting. In general I would just say that it’s considered much more normal to meet people through social media and the internet now. For example, it used to be considered embarrassing to do the online dating thing, and now I don’t thing it’s so taboo. I think Facebook and social media has a huge influence on that. Plus, we met on Twitter and we’re friends 🙂

  • Market Maven

    Call me old fashioned but any way you shake it, ignoring a dinner companion to tweet, email or text is rude. What you’re saying is that the person across the table from you is less important than whatever satisfaction you’re getting from your little gadget.

  • Pauline Brannigan

    Great post. I will add to the list:

    1) Increased participation in school reunions and perhaps donations. I would have never considered going back to my high school reunion if it wasn’t for Facebook. My college friends organized a get together that drew 200 people in Boston that was outside of the school’s alumni planning.

    2) Corporate stalking. Today, you better know your prospects’ background, interests, and where they went to school from doing your homework on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. If they aren’t there… I know I have an uphill battle.

    3) Honesty. If you post it, tweet it, or check into it you own it. Hard to deny things when there is an historical archive of your whereabouts.

  • Jimmy

    Fun read. Spot on. I also enjoyed the comments. I could add a few, but I will stick with one. Social media has morphed the meaning of connection since people appear to be concerned about numbers/quantity over quality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: