Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Pinterest, Path, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+, and WordPress are some of the most-used social media sites/apps. The proliferation of social media sites and services is seemingly endless. At times, I've often thought that we will reach a zenith with our need for learning about social media. It would manifest itself as a Gladwellian tipping point that creates a sense of ubiquity regarding the act of sharing, posting, tweeting, and blogging. However, I think that is more of my own inner bias around the simple fact that teaching social media can be draining. Similar to how introductory writing instructors have to teach the same concepts over and over again, it seems to me that social media 101 are here to stay. Sure, the sites and oddly misspelt site names will change and evolve, but the basics of social media interaction, development, engagement, privacy, and creation will always need to be taught.
We will always be learning about social media because unlike other forms of communication like the telephone, email, text messaging, or even the unfortunately enduring fax, social media are almost always shifting, evolving, and emerging. Platforms for social media use are expanding with the growth of the Internet of Things and even Facebook has improved their mobile experience. Technology confidence, knowledge, and fluency are major factors that impact an individuals use of social media. For example, every single time I give a presentation on social media at a university, there are those who have been using sites like Twitter or Facebook since their inception, while others are still reaching for a basic understanding. There is a major spectrum of social media knowledge among individual users.
Perhaps the title of this post should have been "Why We Will Always Be Learning How To Communicate?" Social media are essentially another evolution in how we use various means to communicate with one another. However, the nuance, measurement, and utility of social media in terms of amplification of message, digital identity development, thought leadership, knowledge exchange, and mobility represent a tremendous amount of information. We will always be learning how to communicate using the tools and channels that are at our disposal.
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