I’ve talked about the global country of social media before, and I suspect it’s something I will come back to more than once as it’s become such a dominating force. The rise of social media has impacted almost every part of our lives in some way, meaning we have had to redefine etiquette – how do you unfriend someone politely? – behaviour, and even relationships. If you can keep up with someone’s life by watching their Facebook status’ go by, requiring little to no effort from you, are you still really in touch? If you chat to someone online a lot, but have never actually met them face to face, what kind of relationship is that?
This brings me onto the subject of voice. I’ve already talked about the impact of the narrator’s voice in stories, but it goes further than that – what voice do you use, either consciously or subconsciously, in different situations? You wouldn’t address a business meeting using the same vocabulary or mannerisms as when talking to your mates down the pub, after all. The same goes for media: your choice of communication channel will directly impact the language and style of your speech.
A close friend recently commented that he would not have guessed this blog was me if he hadn’t known already, because the tone and style of language is so different to my day-to-day conversation. It’s a common phenomenon that people are very different online. Some have more confidence because they are not face-to-face, some are less adept at socialising because they cannot take cues from body language, some are more open and some are less. Relationships will therefore be different.
There seems to be a growing trend of using social media for everything – relationships, business, marketing, hobbies, etc etc. I may be in the minority here but I happen to think this is not the right approach. You still have to choose your voice and your channel. Twitter, for example, is not a good marketing tool (no matter what my boss might think). The updates go past so quickly, the space is restrictive, and there is so much white noise on there that people are not going to bother reading something boring. The more noise there is, the louder you have to shout to be heard and no one will listen if all you’re shouting is ‘get your hot dogs here’.
This idea of global communication is not new. Go back to the Old Testament and you’ve got the classic Tower of Babel story. Just after the Flood, everyone tried to live together and speak the same language – an approach that was confounded by God because of the risk that ‘nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.’ (Genesis 11:6) Compare this to the Invisible Children Kony 2012 campaign, and the movement they created. We aren’t there yet, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been.