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.