Five Words that have Changed According to Social Media

Not long ago, no one had a Facebook and no one tweeted – except for birds.   Today, nearly 1 Billion people use Facebook, Twitter, and the latest craze – Google+, each and every day.  If you include all the social media platforms out there, then the figure is well over a billion human souls.  To say social media has changed the way we communicate may be the understatement of the year, but I’ll say it anyways because I need a good segue.  The fact is that words have changed in meaning and function.  Let’s consider vocabulary according to social media:

  1. The word “Friends” actually means People who you have met.
    There’s enough evidence out there that the human brain simply can’t handle so many friends.  According to Dunbar’s number, a metric created to be a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.  But beyond your family, how many “Friends” do you have?  Before Facebook, that number was probably 20, maybe 10, 5, or even just 2 or 1.  Today, hundreds and often thousands of “friends” is much more common..\\
  2. The word “Lovers” actually means the person or people that appear most in your profile pic or have taken your profile pic.
    It is quite convenient that certain social media platforms give users the ability to define their relationship status.  For certain brave souls, about 36% actually, it’s an opportunity to tell your friends if you’re single, in a relationship, engaged, married, even letting everyone know you’re divorced.  Though this often does not tell the community who you’re sleeping with.   To figure that out, one simply should look at your profile pic.  Excluding family, there’s a fairly good chance that whomever is in most of your profile pics or has actually taken your profile pic is indeed your lover.
  3. The word “Hater” actually means someone who “BLOCKS” you.
    “Hater” is a relatively new word, made popular by the rap song era of the 1990s.  A hater back then was someone who can’t stand someone else most likely because of their success, good looks, savoir faire, durability, or any number of qualities the hater does not possess.   The hater was easy to spot.  They’re the one talking about that other person – negatively or sarcastically.  With social media, it’s easy to spot haters.  They are actually the blockers.  Excluding post relationship blocking, if you block someone in social media, it’s because you can’t stand to see their name.  You can’t stand to see who they’re friends with and who likes them and where they are.  You could easily hide their feed, or simply “unfriend” or “unfollow”, but choosing to block is an entirely new level of communication that speaks volumes about you – the hater.
  4. The word “Post” actually means “cry for help” or “ego broadcast”
    There are no firm metrics on this theoretical statistic, but any cursory examination of a Facebook newsfeed or Twitter Feed reveals that most posts are either very basic cries for help or broadcasts of the ego.  It’s a therapists’ dream.  Let’s define these.  If you wake up and have a bad morning and post “not the way I wanted to start my day”, that’s a cry for help.  What you want are friends to say “awwww, hope you feel better”, or “sorry hun, hope your day improves.”  If you post something like “went out last night and had girls all over me,” that’s a broadcast of the ego.  Before you post, ask yourself, “is this a cry for help”, or a “broadcast of my ego”?  If either are affirmative, then you may want to re-think.
  5. The word “Circle” actually means Circle
    Although most social media and social networks do not operate like our brains, like real life, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Google’s launch of Google+ this past June offers some logic and practical relevancy.  I can speak from experience in taking my Facebook Friends from 1000 to 700 and then down to 300.  The facebook groups and friends list is tough to manage.  And, ultimately, I wanted more privacy and complete transparency, but only with the select friends on my list.  With Google+, you can create circles of contacts – much more reflective of real life.My “friends” are people that I spend quality time with even if I only see them once or twice a year.
  • My “best friends” are people I would say anything to anytime.
  • My “family” is my family.
  • “Acquaintances” are people I know from around town or from social circles; or often friends of friends.
  • “Business” contacts are folks I have done or may do business with.

Within these circles are many more circles.  My thought ultimately is that Google+ will represent visually what our brains do automatically, that is finding those connection points and shared interests among many circles.  This way, we’ll know with whom we have the richest experiences to share.  Imagine a system that actually tells you who you should spent time with – this is the social network I have been waiting for.


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