8th April '10

Call Me Old-Fashioned…

by Caroline Brand

As an online marketing intern at Brighton agency, I sometimes feel my weeks are split half-and-half between the “real world” of working at an agency, and the “not-so-real world” of being a college senior.  Though the transition between roles has proved pretty painless, there have been a few times when I’ve experienced a bit of a "clash” between the two schools of thought…

It was the very first week of my Literature 101 class, (don’t judge, as a senior I am required to take the course in order to graduate) and we’d just begun class discussion on the current state of U.S. Literature when my professor blurted out the following:

“All of this Twitter-Tweeting-Social Media-Stuff is ruining our society’s ability to research and to write structured, compelling content.   We are a culture so oversaturated with information that we’ve lost our ability to come up with opinions of our own. Instead of reading Rousseau, we’re tweeting about what we had for Lunch.  Call me Old-Fashioned, but I think it’s safe to say that American Literature, and our overall quality of writing, is quickly disintegrating.”

First of all, could there be a more depressing way to start off a Literature course? Second of all, he’s just plain wrong!  And to prove to my beloved professor that the “Social Media Generation” really can form a structured, compelling argument, let me continue by telling you why...

I’ll begin with his first point, that Social Media is ruining our writing skills.  While some see Twitter’s 140 character maximum as posing a problem, I would argue there can actually be benefits.  For example, this article from copyblogger notes:

“Crafting a message for Twitter requires you to “pump up” your verbs (replacing adverbs and adjectives with them), and discover a better, clearer and more concise way to say what you want to say.”

Even if you don’t agree that a character limit may have positive benefits, the fact of the matter is that most tweets include links to sites, articles, and blogs which definitely exceed 140 characters.  Many fail to see that Twitter is merely a means to an end—a vehicle for taking followers to your company site, your online photo album, your personal blog, and many other communication mediums which are filled with “structured, compelling content” (to quote my not-to-be-named professor).

On to his second point, his assertion that our culture is so “oversaturated” with information that we don’t have opinions of our own...

If my professor was actually using Twitter, I think he would probably be amazed—if not overwhelmed—by the amount of opinions flowing through the site on a minute-by-minute basis.  The amount of politicians, activists, charities, and artists that are using Twitter to relay their platforms and beliefs is truly amazing. And, he might take special interest in this story from Mashable, where a professor actually used Twitter to benefit her students inside the classroom.

The important point here is not to prove that my professor’s opinion of Twitter is wrong.  The real point is to highlight the overall lack in willingness for some people to just give the whole Twitter thing a shot.  I hope after reading this you’ve at least thought about the possibility of starting a Twitter account.  I also hope that on the slight chance of my Literature 101 professor running across this blog, my final grade in his course will not be affected. But even if it is—even if I fail Literature 101 as a senior in college—I hope he takes my advice and jumps on the Twitter bandwagon.  After all, with opinions as strong as his, he’d make the perfect candidate.  :)

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