Monday, July 25, 2011

Talk, Talk, and more talk

I was a Communication major in the late 1990s. “Back then”, we concentrated mostly on media history, writing style, and journalism. Little did we know, communication would soon explode into a non-stop free-for-all of information. I wonder what Communication cirriculum looks like today?

When I was a communication major, the Internet was used for occasional research. But Internet speeds were pretty slow and it was difficult to find what you needed online. Google wasn’t incorporated until 1998, and did not gain worldwide popularity for a few more years. I trudged my way to the library and looked in (gasp!) books for information to complete various papers.

During the late 1990s, less than half of all U.S. adults went online. Fast forward 12-13 years, and over 75% of all Americans (age 2+!) are actively online in a given month. Facebook, second only to Google, has a monthly unique audience over 135 million. YouTube has a unique audience over 106 million. Twitter? Also huge, with 23 million visitors per month. People everywhere are sharing information, photos, and videos constantly. It is not uncommon for worldwide news to break on a social media site. I learned of Michael Jackson’s death within minutes, and through Twitter. The tragic Norway mass killings for a few days ago? Also Twitter. Amy Winehouse’s recent death? I first read it on Facebook. Before I even navigate over to a news site to check daily headlines, I am abreast of the latest news and gossip via social media.

I am proud to have a degree in communication. I marvel at how things have changed since I sat in classrooms and listened attentively to professors, or since I did my research at the library. I look forward to learning and immersing myself in new forms of communication as they emerge.

But… when is enough, enough?

I suffer a love/hate relationship with the barrage of information via social media. Part of me wonders if I should walk away to focus more closely on my real, tangible life. Am I wasting my time and feeling added anxiety with the problems of strangers and/or people I have not seen in 20+ years? Would I feel less stressed, less pressed for time if I did not find myself sucked into conversations, photo galleries, and blogs each and every day?

But, would I also feel more alone? Isolated? Lonely? Some of my “virtual” friends are most like me, most understanding of my life dreams and wishes.

Just as I have been learning through parenthood, there is a balance somewhere. Like parenting, it is probably an ever-changing balance. Something that is never set in stone, but flexes and bends with each new day and different situation.

I am on a mission to find out what that means for me.

*What does it mean to you?*

Data sources: Pew Internet Research and Nielsen Online's June 2011 NetRatings data
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...