Social Media – the Teenager

In the 1970’s writing rules were hammered into us but when social media arrived it changed everything. It’s the teenager in the writing family – a trendsetter and rebel upsetting the balance in everything, not just communication. 

The first known communications are 30,000 year old paintings found in Southern France caves.  Modern “writing” evolved with the Sumerian hunter-gatherers about 30,000 years later using cuneiforms followed by Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese hanzi and the Greek alphabet (Psychology Today article, The Evolution of the Written Word).

Sumerian text 4,000 years ago
Egyptian hieroglyphs 4,000 years ago
Chinese engraving 3,300 years ago

Pictures left to right, top to bottom: France cave painting 30,000 years ago, Sumerian text 4,000 years ago, Egyptian hieroglyphs 4,000 years ago, Chinese engraving 3,300 years ago (Roberts, 2002, pages 45, 72-73).

Trendsetter and Rebel

As a trendsetter social media is the exciting hip new kid on the block.  It incorporates lots of gadgets like cell phones, headphones and microphones; there’s a different language using acronyms and short forms; and you can communicate on platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram with pictures, messages, videos, podcasts, blogs and vlogs. 

Social media is a rebellious rule breaker. In the early to mid 2000’s, like the youth, I embraced using acronyms and short forms for texting.  This created an uproar that children weren’t going to be able to spell or write properly.  Even my own children criticized me for it. Not only is this now normal, but it’s totally expected in certain platforms like Twitter. 

But social media is a revolution that needs to be kept in check.  Postings of child pornography, bullying and racism are being addressed by the Government of Canada.  They have proposed legislation amending both offline and online content related to the Criminal Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Youth Criminal Justice as seen in the document Government of Canada takes action to protect Canadians against hate speech and hate crimes.

As teenagers rebel at limitations while exploring how to do things “their way”, social media is no different.  In a few hundred years we’ve gone from the general store and specialists like the tailor, cobbler and apothecary to online shopping where you assess products based on reviews rather than the in-store expert.  The Covid pandemic gave social media an unfair boost forcing the globe to either embrace it or be left behind. This created a backlash of business and job loss but for those who did embraced it, many jobs and businesses have flourished with online stores.

Social Media Won the Popularity Contest! 

Teenagers are known for their need to connect with each other but we all need that too.  The Covid pandemic deprived us from in-person interactions and social media saved the day allowing us to connect.  We hear about mental health problems the pandemic has caused but I wonder how much worse it would be without social media.  Anyone can use it and social media is here to stay, so you may as well jump in with the attitude of a teenager – get curious, social and join in.

How do you see social media?  What changes do you see coming?  Let me know your comments.


Roberts, J.M. (2002) Ancient history: From the first civilizations to the renaissance. Duncan Baird Publishers           

Facebook Post (24 words)

Social media is like a teenager – trendsetter and rebel reshaping everything it encounters.  Read more about this in my blog “Social Media – the Teenager”.

Twitter Post (207 characters)

#socialmediahistory #moderncommunication #SurvivingCovid, Social media, the trendsetter and rebel of the writing family. For more on this see my blog, “Social Media – the Teenager”. @middleagedteen

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