Putting the social back in social media | PostIndependent.com

Putting the social back in social media

April Clark
Staff Photo |

I was watching Jimmy Kimmel the other night and Kanye West was a guest. The two had been in a Twitter tiff over one of the late-night show host’s skits spoofing the fashionable rapper after a BBC interview.

Sometime people just can’t take a joke.

From what I gathered, the two seemed to hug it out and make the situation right. Most of the show featured Kanye sharing his thoughts on creativity stifling, Hollywood politics, leather jogging pants and nosey paparazzi. To my surprise, I found some of his insights to be right on, especially how society views those in the spotlight.

“People think it’s OK to treat celebrities like zoo animals or what they’re saying is not serious or their dreams are not serious,” West said.

As a creative-type, I can see his point. Although I still find it hard to consider reality TV anything close to serious, especially as an art form.

Comedy, maybe.

I’m certainly not famous. The paps don’t follow me to Starbucks or wait outside my favorite haunts for a photo of me without make-up. I would have to stage my own paparazzi photo shoot for that to happen.

I’d at least wear some mascara to give it some credibility.

By participating in the big-name social networks — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest — I’m living in a monkey exhibit of my own every day. At least the monkeys seem to have the best time, especially when they’re throwing stuff at each other.

And picking bugs out of their hair.

People might say pursuing a career in theater, comedy or TV catapults a person’s privacy straight out the window. There’s the argument that celebrities ask to be in the spotlight. As we’ve seen in the downfall of many child actors, fame comes with a price. More often than not, that price is being able to keep to themselves without everyone knowing their business.

Privacy is probably a thing of the past anyway.

Most everything I do these days is documented in some shape or form on a social media site. That could be a joke about my intentions of dressing as a sexy Minnie Pearl for Halloween or posting a Christmas cookie recipe for cookies I won’t likely have the patience to create.

It’s good to have some goals in life.

As a media professional, keeping up with social networking is the best way to stay involved in an ever-changing industry where technology and innovation is king. And, it’s not just me. Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project monitors adult social networking behavior and reports substantial growth in online trends since 2005. In August, the center reported that 72 percent of online adults use social networking sites.

The other 28 percent must be spending their time vowing not to use social media.

Facebook is the grand dame of social media, with more than a billion users worldwide. Think of the sheer power we hold in our hands every time we check our Facebook pages on smart phones. I can’t even imagine having teenagers in this day and age. I can only hope they’re being taught that smart phones or Facebook pages can be as powerful as any weapon out there.

My dad used to teach us that about cars.

People may say, oh it’s just kids on social networks. Not the case. According to a Washington Post story on this subject, Grandma is three times as likely to use a social networking site now as in 2009. The Pew study showed that online users 65 and older have tripled on social networking sites, from 13 percent four years ago to 43 percent now.

Those cute grandkid photos online have more power than anyone could have predicted.

The Pew study also showed that it’s not just celebrities who are on display like zoo animals, as Kanye eluded. Everyday people using social media are living in their own sorts of fishbowls, whether privacy settings are turned on or off. We are out there in the wide world of the Internet, connected in ways we may never fully grasp. Our images, connections and lives are less private than when our grandparents and parents were our age. That is our reality, unless we go live off the grid with no Internet access or neighbors.

That is also our power.

How we handle that responsibility is what will keep this world from turning into a zoo, as the saying goes. With power comes responsibility. So let’s take some. Teach our children, and each other, not to use the Internet to cyberbully — and if you don’t that could happen to your kid, just see what they’re saying to each other on ask.fm.

It’s not pretty.

Let’s show each other that words can be used as weapons. Just like a car becomes one when driving drunk or a smart phone becomes one when we text something hateful. Let’s use social networks for positivity instead of so much negativity fostered by vengeful Internet trolls. Let’s make happiness, spark creativity, not stalk each other, and be, well, social.

We hold the power in our hands.

— April E. Clark wishes her fabulous friends Kat and Pete a happy anniversary. Never forget Sayulita. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.

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