Jamie Butow

Monday, Dec 31 2012 11:29 PM

JAMIE BUTOW: Social media continues to fill in the gaps in our lives

By Jamie Butow

As 2013 is off and running, a lot of people are looking at what is ahead for social media. Me? I have no clue. I don't think anyone really does. Social media will just continue to grow and change, much like everything else. It won't go away; it will simply integrate into our lives to various degrees.

Yes, I love social media. I know it doesn't take the place of a phone or face-to-face conversation; it supplements it. It fills in the gaps, if you will.

Social media allows me to see photos of my friend's kids on their first day of school in Texas, or video of a first place cheerleading competition in Washington, D.C.

I get links to articles and blogs from my friend in Fresno on kids' health issues -- a topic she is passionate about, and one I'm interested in.

I get to experience life in New York City, Montana, Maine and Florida through my friends' posts.

And while I may not think my life is all that exciting, my friends react to the tid-bits I post. The funny kid sayings, the way I react to loose teeth (hate 'em), and the moments we all share, "Darn, I mopped all the floors and now I'm stuck here on the couch until they dry. Guess I'll HAVE to watch 'Modern Family' now!"

Looking back at all the photos I posted in 2012, the most popular was of my son, grandmother and I at a Dodger game in August. Even my non-baseball loving friends liked it. It was such a great photo (taken with my iPhone), I had prints made and gave a framed copy to my grandma for Christmas.

Aside from weddings and new babies, this year on social media I got to see photos from my second cousin's trip to see her grandparents in Texas. I hadn't seen them since they left California decades ago. I got to marvel at the photos of a dollhouse my Texas friend built from scratch for her daughter. And I got to follow along as a Southern California friend did stunt after ridiculous stunt in an effort to win tickets to Stagecoach.

It's those moments that social media allows us to share.

Despite everyone saying that social media is destroying personal relationships, it's more of those moments I'm looking forward to in 2013 -- the moments that fill in the gaps between phone calls and visits.

I wish you all the best in 2013. Here's to whatever comes our way next!

Poke app

And on the other side of social media ... .

In case you weren't annoyed enough by being "Poked" by someone on Facebook, the company this week rolled out an app specifically designed to poke people.

The company says, "Facebook Poke is an iPhone app that makes it fun and easy to say hello to friends wherever you are."

I don't know about you, but if I keep poking my closest friends, they won't be my friends much longer.

With the app, you can poke or send a message, photo, or video to Facebook friends, or poke an individual friend or several at once.

The app also has a feature that lets you set each message to expire after a specific time you've set, either 1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds. When time runs out, the message disappears.

I'm not sure what the point is, if friends have to have the app for you to poke them, or why I even downloaded it. But there it is. I guess we'll see if it has any staying power or if it goes the way of Facebook's photo app.

Social media classes

Registration opens Sunday for two social media classes I'm teaching at the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning at Bakersfield College in the spring: Social Media 101 and Social Media for Small Businesses and Organizations.

Social Media 101 is for someone familiar with computers and email but who wants to learn to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites to keep in touch with friends and family.

We'll discuss each site, privacy and ethical issues, and you'll get to log in and try them for yourself in a computer lab.

Social Media for Small Businesses and Organizations is ideal for small-business owners and people involved in clubs, groups and nonprofits.

You'll learn best practices for reaching and engaging your audience quickly. You will have the opportunity to try to refine social media marketing strategies for your group or business and to discuss the results with the class.

Online registration opens Sunday, Jan. 6 at http://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/levaninstitute. And look for the full schedule of Levan classes in The Californian that day as well.

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Bakersfield.com Network. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, and on Twitter @JamieButow.

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