Last week I had the pleasure of attending a CNN Dialogues event held at The Ray Charles Performing Arts Center of Morehouse College in Atlanta (October 12, 2011).
CNN, the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference of Emory University, and the National Center For Civil and Human Rights, partnered for the second version of the series designed to provoke thought and dialogue on various subjects.
The topic of the evening? “Living in the Age of Social Media – the Good, the Bad, and the Surprising.”
Since I consider myself somewhat of a “social media strategist,” it piqued my interest to hear what others felt on a subject that I hold so near and dear to my heart.
CNN anchor Don Lemon facilitated a dynamic discussion on the subject of social media between the following four social media-savvy panelists:
Maggie Jackson, journalist and author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention & the Coming Dark Age (2008)
Shaun King a self-described ‘techie-humanitarian’ who is founder of Courageous Church, as well as the founder of the social media humanitarian aid site, TwitChange
Baratunde Thurston, comedian, co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics (a blog targeting politically-minded African-Americans), and director of digital for The Onion (a multi-media platform for satirical news and information)
Pete Wentz, musician and lyricist for the rock band, Fall Out Boy, record label manager, and co-founder of the group Black Cards.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed my live blog from the event, but if you missed all that, check out a recap of CNN Dialogues: “Living in the Age of Social Media”…
The event began with several social media statistics, which were later utilized to drive the discussion. The first portion of the dialogue centered on how social media has changed people’s lifestyles.
Lemon and the panelists revealed statistics showing that “nearly four out of five active Internet users visit social networks and blogs. Of those four, users spend nearly a quarter of their time on the Internet communicating on social networks”. (sounds about right.)
King noted that social media makes us feel closer to tragedy, by removing the layers of separation and “bringing the disaster to us in real-time.”
Wentz observed that social media has empowered people, and “amplified the voice of the vocal minority”.
The next question was guided by the statistic that “40 percent of social media users access online content through their mobile phones.”
After Lemon quickly polled the audience, he noticed that nearly everyone in attendance could access the Internet from a smart phone.
“Are we losing touch with what is important, and does the fact that we connect to everything end up making us disconnected?”
Next, since 85 percent of people believe that social media has a positive impact on their social world, Lemon asked, “is the adage, ‘No person is an island still true?’”
Thurston pointed out that emotions are what save a person from feeling isolated from their friends or family, regardless of whether that sentiment is expressed online or in person.
Other highlights of the event were when King stated that “Internet speak has dumbed down children’s writing skills” and I totally agree. Not only has technological advances created a culture of with penmanship issues, handwriting isn’t even a primary focus in schools anymore.
Have you noticed that your handwriting has gotten worse over time. Can you even remember the last time you had to write anything? (maybe that’s just me)
If you’ve never heard of “Black Twitter” here are two great posts about it:
Thurston referred to Black Twitter or “Blitter”, and said that Black culture is rich, and Twitter “throws a camera” on Black culture, exposing the good and the bad. It was also noted that because our culture is so coveted, the emergence of “Black Twitter” could actually be attributed to other races participating in and/or creating trending topics that are assumed to be by Blacks.
At the end of the dialogue, Lemon asked each panelist for final thoughts and one by one, they left the audience with the following words:
- King: Use social media to change the world. The average person can make a huge difference.
- Wentz: Use social media as an extension of your self, but make a clear separation between your social media life and your real life.”
- Thurston: Use the social media tools that are modeled after the person you want to be.
- Johnson: Give people the gift of your face-to-face attention.
- Lemon: Use social media tools to listen to your audience.
“Living in the Age of Social Media – the Good, the Bad, and the Surprising” is the second in a series of three CNN Dialogues programs to be presented this calendar year.
In December, the final CNN Dialogues of 2011 will focus on the effect of greater openness on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
Has the emergence of social media been a positive or negative influence in your life?
Photos: Joi Pearson Photography