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Getting social

Reading list: Social media

It’s 2014, social media is the new talking, Generation X, Y and Z are all screen-obsessed and apathetic, yadda yadda yadda. Although journalism about social media (not to mention journalism about social media journalism) is all too prolific, Honi’s contributions to the social media revolution have been interesting, personal and varied. Here’s a selection of stories not just about “the effect of Twitter on traditional media” or “[insert first year media essay here]”, but about Obama venturing into the weird world of Reddit, the connection between sex workers and Twitter, an early piece on the allure of SnapChat, a disastrous encounter with the Tinder helpdesk, how people grieve in the online age and the death of the much-loved Horse eBooks.

On a vaguely related note, you should read this list off your Honi Soit app! If you haven’t downloaded it, click here to download for iPhone and Android.

1. Winning hearts, likes and retweets

Obama’s engagement with social media set a precedent for campaigns across the globe. In this feature, Felix Donovan explores how Obama used Facebook, Twitter and Reddit to engage young people, tactics that found their way into Australian politics.

“Obama’s digital campaign focused on giving people a ‘good experience’. Facebook is not a lecture theatre; Twitter not a town hall. Different expectations govern these new digital political spaces. People don’t want to be lectured they want to feel engaged – talked to, not at.”

2. A Tinder Tale

What happens when your Tinder account won’t let you log in and you have 256 potential matches desperately waiting for you to message them? This catastrophe happened to Isobel Yeap. In this blow-by-blow account of her dealings with the online bureaucracy that is Tinder, Yeap slowly comes to the devastating conclusion that she may indeed never find true love.

“I sent several people on Facebook accusatory messages. “DID YOU REPORT ME ON TINDER???? I THINK I’VE BEEN BANNED.” None of them replied. It will be awkward when we next run into each other, but that is the price I am willing to pay for love.”

3. Tweeting from the shadows

Through Twitter, sex workers have found a way to have their voices heard in a media world that would otherwise silence them. Hannah Ryan spoke to sex workers about how they used Twitter, and how the medium is making positive changes to the way sex workers are viewed.

“Merely by tweeting about day-to-day subjects, Stone undermines the image of the ‘prostitute’ as someone who is defined solely by their profession, whose activities are secretive or illicit, and who is there just for sexual pleasure. Her work isn’t whitewashed from her feed: she often tweets topless pictures, and she recently described her first experience squirting. But references to sex and work trips are weaved easily into a broader patchwork of experiences.”

4. Farewell @Horse_ebooks

In September 2013, the much loved Twitter spambot @Horse_ebooks was revealed to be a fraud. It wasn’t a real spambot – or a real horse, for that matter – but two guys pretending to be a spambot as a piece of “performance art”. While some found the idea of a spambot that spouted garbled wisdom a little too much too bear, others sincerely adored the Horse. Lane Sainty was one of the true believers.

“Lacking the computer literacy to distinguish a real spambot from a fake one, I merely loved the idea of a prophetic, fictional horse that tweeted meaningful non-sequiturs. I guess it was too good to be true.”

5. Death 2.0

How do we express grief online? What happens to people’s Facebook and Twitter profiles when they pass away? Have we lost interest in cemeteries, now thinking of somebody’s social media page as the right place to pay our respects? In this feature, Thomas O’Brien explores these questions via the story of a friend who passed away.

“It’s been nearly two years since his death, and friends and family still gather on Lewis’ Facebook to share memories and often simply just to say hello. Most people are writing to Lewis, not about him. I did this myself in the immediate months following his death; typing to him as if he was receiving my messages.”

6. Ten seconds in heaven

Since the introduction of the ten second photo sharing service, SnapChat has modified itself to include stories and messaging and turned down a huge takeover offer from Facebook. In this piece, written in the early days of SnapChat’s widespread popularity, Mariana Podesta-Diverio ponders the simple pleasures and attraction of the app.

“The odious Facebook photo over-sharer unwittingly has a comrade in Snapchat, as do that person’s ‘friends’. We can only hope that as Snapchat’s charm becomes increasingly pertinent, streams of consciousness and voyeurism bypass oft-clogged news feeds in favour of self-destructing image snippets that demand your undivided attention for ten seconds.”