The way we communicate is changing

Published 6:32 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

The relatively recent phenomenon of social media, along with the old-school cell phones, has changed forever the way we communicate. Instead of face-to-face conversations, we now tweet, text, or post on Facebook.

For most, gone are the days of letter writing, by hand, on paper, and sent through the post office. Now we type messages instead of writing them by hand, use a computer or cell phone instead of a pen and piece of paper, use an email address instead of a rural route address, and hit send instead of attaching a stamp.

We have lost the art of “visiting” and personal communication. But, along with the drawbacks of the high-speed advent of communicating electronically, many advantages have come with it.

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As I sit at my laptop computer typing this column, I can instantly look at my Twitter feed and get updated on a plethora of subjects, from a variety of sources, from around the world.

At 2:30 on a Friday afternoon I opened the “timeline” on my Twitter account and read an update on the Penn State football scandal, a story about AT&T providing Wi-Fi access to New York City parks, a NASCAR driver commenting that he hates going to shopping malls during Christmas, and a comment from famous Chicago chef Rick Bayless discussing harvesting greens from his roof-top garden. All those within 30 seconds.

If you didn’t know, Twitter is a web-posting site that allows users to create “tweets,” with a maximum length of 140 characters. Users can “follow” and “be followed” by other posters.

Although Twitter is my personal choice to stay updated on a global or national scale, Facebook is as big of a part of some folks everyday life as walking and breathing.

Facebook, once a web site strictly used on college campuses, is very much mainstream now.

There are more than 800 million users of Facebook. Did you get that? 800 million. Of those active users, more than half log in to check updates and post statuses every day. Surprisingly, more than 75 percent of Facebook users come from outside the United States and the users communicate in more than 70 languages.

You can check out more than 250 million photos that are uploaded to Facebook every day. Yes, every day.

Don’t think this is just a website for youngsters. My 87-year-old grandmother is an active Facebook user. While she is not the typical 87-year-old grandmother — her profile photo is of her shooting skeet with a 20-guage shotgun — her use of Facebook is not out of the ordinary. The average age of a Facebook user is 38.

This all started with a $500,000 investment in 2004. Now, seven years later, estimates conclude that should Facebook go public (it is still a privately held company), the market capitalization of the company would be $100 billion. In just seven years.

Well, gotta go check my tweets, posts, and status updates. You can follow me on Twitter at @jefffindley. Or just call me or simply stop by the office, the old-fashioned way.

Jeff Findley is the publisher of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at