Sunday, February 20, 2011

Electronic English Teacher

Let me start off by saying that I learned how to speak English by watching TV.  My mom and dad were both born and raised in Havana, Cuba.  Spanish was the first language I learned how to speak. When I turned four years old, my family bought a television.  Being the extremely impressionable toddler that I was (not to mention adorable, see picture below) the TV had stolen my attention away from my Barbies, who I presumed to be pretty upset about the whole ordeal.  I had a lot of trouble reading at first but knowing the sounds made the process a little easier.  When it came time for me to start elementary school, I had a respectable handle on English and I owe a lot of that to the tube.

Now, almost 20 years later, the only time I turn on the TV is if the show I want to watch isn’t available on Hulu.  When I finally do make it to the TV, the process of finding the remote and sitting through commercials can be painful.  This new development got me thinking: how do I receive news?  I don’t read newspapers and I don’t actively seek out the news.  When it comes to the news, TV and newspapers aren’t part of the equation.   
This revelation got me a little disappointed.  I consider myself to be an educated student of public relations.  I think I always have a relatively firm grasp of what is 
going on in the media and what is going on in the public relations field.  How on earth am I getting all this information without my electronic English teacher?  
In a recent tweet chat I participated in,we discussed how Gen-Y has issues focusing and reading a newspaper.  According to the other chat members, it simply isn’t part of Gen-Y’s lives.  To me, this isn’t such a terrible thing.  The perspective I think they’re missing is Twitter has forever changed the way we receive news.  In the past, if I didn’t catch in on the six o’clock news, I had no idea what was going on.  Now, all I do is read the news online.  I don’t consider “actively seeking out the news” as following a reporter or news station on Twitter, but a pretty passive act that gets me in the loop.  I hate it when people say Gen-Y doesn’t read.  We just don’t read the way people have become accustomed to.   Fine, our generation has video games, smart phones, and iPads, but we grew up with the all mighty and awesome internet.  We’re not reading books, we’re reading websites.  As PR practitioners we have to realize if we are trying to target Gen-Y, newspapers and PSA’s may not be a part of an effective plan. 
As a society, we have made amazing leaps in technology changing the way we interact and communicate with others.  I wonder what new medium will change the way we talk next.

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