This morning I opened my computer with every intention of writing a post about “Media Trends for 2017.” I googled the topic, and discovered that the entire first page of my search was all about Social Media Trends, rather than the topic I’d originally planned to write: What’s happening in films, TV, multi-media and virtual reality for the upcoming year.
The first article listed was published by Forbes and entitled 4 Millennial Social Media Trends To Watch In 2017. I was intrigued, so I began reading. Part of the article came as no surprise. What did surprise me was that millenials are turning away from facebook, not just because older generations have appropriated it (as I knew), but because of its negativity factor. That was a surprise, and honestly, I’m with them on that. There was a time when social media was about empowerment, enlightenment and inspiration. Although you can certainly still find aspirational posts, their percentage in the overall landscape has certainly declined, at least in my timeline.
So I do still plan to do an article on the upcoming year’s media trends, but the 3-part editorial that follows is what I see as some of the changes and trend in both media, and social media.
A Nostalgic Stroll Down Media History Lane
I’m dating myself, but when I was a kid, there were three TV channels and one print newspaper from which to get news in the town in which I lived. There were also rigorous standards for journalism: it was seen as investigative reporting to find the truth. Trolls were funny little characters with brilliantly-colored wild hair that kids collected. News came in the form of good, bad, scary and uplifting. It was delivered on a regularly scheduled program cycle. If it was 6 PM, you could always find my father sitting in his favorite blue chair, watching iconic Syracuse newscaster Fred Hillegas deliver the important events of the day, which he read from a script, in measured and reassuring tones.
Today, we are surrounded 24/7, by a maelstrom* of information. It is delivered via newspapers, magazines, online sites, radio, satellite and TV. Its most powerful and viral messenger is social media, which hobbles our computers, gluts our data usage, dominates our private and social interactions, gives both joys and headaches to brand managers, and invades our sleep.
The current political and social climate has not helped. This environment has seemingly given approval for anyone to say anything, no matter how helpful, harmful, accurate or downright false. The most innocuous comment on facebook or twitter is now subject to a barrage of abuse which can only be likened to the child in a playground who is jumped on by a gang of bullies. I am all for discussion, but in most cases, social media is not about the civil exchange of ideas. The “distance” provided by social media offers a cloak of anonymity behind which to hide, allowing rampant thoughts to gallop forth, unrestrained by sense, respect or civility.
The prominence of false news and “alternative facts” is a relatively new and burgeoning concern. Despite most media outlet’s efforts to remain relatively neutral, they have always had their biases. But, except for outright propaganda machines, there was a code of ethics that proscribed delivering news that was based on factual truth. I hope that the alarming rate at which “media” organizations are set up for the sole purpose of slanting the news, or for delivering false information purposely intended to sway public opinion will not eventually take toll on the legitimate press.
One tsunamic change is that the man who is POTUS delivers postulation, policy and put-down via social media, with little regard for fallout from the tweet, either here or abroad. While recent Presidents and politicians have used social media effectively for the purpose of positive PR and to make followers aware of actions and/or need for support, it has not traditionally been used for these purposes by an individual of this rank. We have yet to see the full extent of the ripple impact this will have.
Social Media Image: By Ibrahim.ID – Own work based on:file:F icon.svgfile:Twitter Logo Mini.svgfile:Google plus icon.svgFile:WhatsApp.svgfile:Instagram Shiny Icon.svgfile:Logo Youtube.svgFile:Reddit.svg, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52245675