Social Media Has Changed The Way We Get Our News
Most mornings we check our Facebook before turning on CNN or MSNBC. Newspapers have become a secondary or non-existent part of our daily routine.
For families, social media has replaced the phone call or even the letter telling us that Aunt Sally has passed on. I am just old enough to remember mom and dad getting one of those phone calls on the old rotary phone that another elderly relative had passed away. With the advent of social media and the modern migrating family: The way we get our news has changed forever.
On a recent Saturday morning I opened up the lap top and fired up Facebook. At the top of my news feed was the latest piece of bad news to come across that screen over the past couple of years. One of our family friends from back home had passed away. Two years earlier I got the news of his wife's sudden passing on the same news feed. People don't send sympathy cards much anymore, they post a message on a family member's Facebook page. Throughout the day I began to notice more has changed beyond the simple sympathy messages.
As family members began to come to terms with the loss of their father and grandfather, the influence of Facebook became more evident. Almost in unison, the same family members began to change their profile pictures to reflect the deep loss they felt. Perhaps the most touching group of pictures was a collage one of my friends granddaughters posted. She brought together photos of her grandparents and her uncle who had passed away only a few years before. Sadly, this brought back a lot of memories of better times shared with these friends in another time and place.
Social Media has come to serve as a way to pass family photos and history down to the next generation. With families living farther and farther from each other these days, Facebook and the others that have followed allow the keeper of the family photo album to share with other members halfway across the world. This helps to preserve a part of our past that is fast disappearing in the digital age. One day those old black and white pictures won't be around anymore to tell our kids about Grandma, Grandpa and the family they never new.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, on the other hand, is using Social Media as a tool to help returning Service Veterans connect with the benefits available to them. These include access to medical and social services provided through a network of clinics located throughout the United States. Each local clinic and Veterans service Office has their own Social Media presence for easier access to the vital services they provide.
The Healing Heroes Network and other non-profits are also reaching out to Wounded Warriors through Social Media. Through a nationwide network of professionals willing to provide a wide array of therapies and services, and funding from generous donors, the Healing Heroes Network aids the brave wounded warriors of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn in receiving much needed therapies. While the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is diligent in providing treatments to our injured military, the scope of covered services can be limited, delayed, or unavailable. HHN fills in the gaps for these desperately needed services and aids those who sacrifice for our freedoms. These and other organizations do indeed fill a void that government doesn't always have the ware withal to do so.
The news that the SEALs had landed in Abbottbad first broke on Social Media. CNN staff first noticed their Twitter feed was lighting up and began calling their contacts. We have come a long way from the days of Walter Cronkite and the news wires of his early days. Top flight reporters now check their Facebook and Twitter feeds as a first line of information on a regular basis. Local papers now utilize Social Media to update readers on breaking stories that are relevant to their local communities. Print editions certainly have their days numbered as Social Media continues to move full steam ahead.
Social Media has opened up an entire new world to aspiring writers and hardened professionals. Services such as Hubpages: a Social Media publishing platform, provide a community space for writers of all stripes to publish their work. As of this writing, 42 million readers visit Hubpages on a monthly basis. Writers and readers alike are fortunate to have these tools at their disposal. Certainly, others will become available in the years to come, only time and technology will tell.
In my short time as a writer we have migrated from computers to tablets and finally smart phones. This technology is moving at light speed and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. I can remember when my colleagues on the Turlock High School Clarion had to go set the type for that week's edition. Face book wasn't even a glimmer in its creator's eye. Today's high school papers are all laid out on computers with the most up to date graphics and benefit from Social Media Integration. That's a long way from my days at the Clarion in Turlock all those years ago. Those days provided me with the solid foundation I would need to rediscover the taste for writing later in life.
Whether we are sharing an old family photo or the latest news, Social Media will almost certainly be part of it. Family members and friends are now a click away or as close as the Facebook chat box. Lest we let Social Media take the place of an occasional phone call or even that old fossil the letter. Honestly, we are getting closer and closer to that reality dear readers. I haven't seen a rotary phone in years much the less a typewriter. The day will come when we admire these tools in a museum to be preserved for our children and grand children as relics their ancestors once used.