Butterfly in the Sky

Imagine you’re playing Family Feud and the question is “Name a phrase that starts with ‘social’.” What comes to your mind? Social media? Social butterfly? Those are my two favorites. I love their interconnectedness as well. When I think of social media “mavens” I think of a social butterfly-type person who just happens to flit around the digital world.

When it comes to focusing on the emergent aspect of social media, the butterfly analogy works again. Just as a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis as a creature unlike the one that went into it, so to do people’s mindsets change when they experience new media. People, communication, society have all changed because of emerging media and we cannot revert to a time before any more than a butterfly can become a caterpillar again.

Change is good

As I mention on my About page, I am fascinated with the use of language in communication and culture. Although I am a grammar nerd, I’m not so interested in enforcing rules of spelling and structure as I am in how they change over time and distance.

Social media represents a shift in how we use language that just happens to coincide with a rapid change in technology.

Another emerging media (of its time) that changed language in a similar way was the printing press. Prior to printed books, there were no standards for how words were spelled in any given language. Once books started to be printed with standard spellings, the idiosyncrasies were written in ink! Think about how that changed communication. Spelling began to matter. Today, social media makes it so that real-time interaction and authenticity matter.