In the 1950s and 60s, in a small town in northern Wisconsin, my Great Great Aunt Ruth (my grandfather’s aunt) was the society and gossip columnist for the Tomahawk Leader. Each week, she’d take calls from the ladies in town, then dutifully report on the goings-on. Bridge parties were carefully documented, including who won and who took home the special prize. Proud parents shared the news of their children’s 10th birthday party, listing all the boys who attended and even noting that poor Donny Murray was sick and couldn’t come.
It was so quaint.
In the 70s and 80s, as times changed, newspapers started to do away with those little tidbits of community news. How silly it seemed to report that Mrs. Ralph Anderson hosted a Christmas party, serving cake and a light lunch. Why take up valuable news space with such ephemera?
Right? But not really. Because it’s 2014, and our Facebook feeds are full of updates from friends and family about trips, meals they’re eating, parties they’re hosting, kids’ milestones, and more. Anyone who sees my News Feed knows that I celebrated Christmas with my parents here in Milwaukee .
It supports my theory that nothing on the Internet is really new. We just have found new ways to share things. (Like these original LOL cats.)
I actually happen to love this about Facebook (and to some extent Twitter.) Thanks to social media, we’ve been able to redefine community – beyond the traditional borders of geography – to the friends, family and acquaintances who are in our news feed.
Like my Christmas Day photo of my parents and I at the Pfister after dinner at the Mason Street Grill, or the Peyton Manning Hello Kitty cake from the Super Bowl party we had. My best friend’s son taking his first steps, or my niece’s birthday party.
To be sure, social media has its faults in this world of over-sharing and over-exposure. But it’s also picked up where the world of print journalism dropped off, returning us to times when we shared life’s simple joys and events with each other.
There are still things that the Internet and social media haven’t quite solved. One of which is unbiased reporting of local governments and local news from reporters who understand local government. That’s another conversation for another day, but one I’m really interested in.
The medium has changed – and so has our definition of community. But the human connection is still there, and better than ever.
Kate Venne is the Director of Public Relations at Capstone National Partners. If you’re interested in media training, contact Kate to find out more.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.