If you work in social media and haven’t read Andrew Watts’ A Teenager’s View on Social Media, where have you been?!
Every Community Manager group I’m part of has been sharing this and although I read it with interest, I share many of the views “Old Fogey” shares in his response to the original post, simply titled ‘An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media’.
Before I go on, I’d like to say that I really enjoyed Andrew’s post. It was an insightful and interesting read and my comments have little to do with the article and more to do with the response to the post.
Andrew is a 19 year old student talking about a personal experience. He’s written the post to share his own experiences and opinions, making the generalisations teenagers do but never explicitly stating that he’s talking on behalf of his generation.
Andrew’s comment is personal, and he makes that quite clear. Andrew is not assessing the social media landscape with the academic rigour of a researcher- so why are the tech elite and journalists elevating his opinion into a generalisation of a generation?
Old Fogey suggests that like usual it’s only the white middle class voice that is getting heard. Andrew may possess tech-savvy intelligence but his position within a privileged sect of American teenhood has amplified his voice. I’m inclined to agree, particularly because Andrew’s dismissal of Twitter raised the same red flag for Old Fogey as it did for me:
“[Andrew’s] coverage of Twitter should raise a big red flag to anyone who has spent an iota of time paying attention to the news. Over the last six months, we’ve seen a phenomenal uptick in serious US-based activism by many youth in light of what took place in Ferguson. It’s hard to ignore Twitter’s role in this phenomenon, with hashtags like #blacklivesmatter and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown not only flowing from Twitter onto other social media platforms, but also getting serious coverage from major media. […] Let me put this bluntly: teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background.”
An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media
I don’t want to delve too deeply into the race, class and cultural background debate here because that’s worthy of an entire blog of its own. However I strongly believe that the furore surrounding Andrew’s article should deliver a warning to all marketeers. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to get wrapped up in a single opinion, and if we do we better make sure we don’t spin it to suit our strategies and current needs.
You can read Old Fogey’s full response here.
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