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Media does not exist in a vacuum. The nature of media is to be shared; to be social.

Media has always been social.

From tribal stories told around a campfire, to the first book run through the printing press, to neighborhood children gathering around television sets to watch the Howdy-Doody show, media is meant to be shared with others.

Media does not exist in a vacuum. The nature of media is to be shared; to be social.

Etymology of Social Media.

When “social media” emerged as a term to describe information shared in and across online networks, it made sense, if for no other reason than we lacked the language to describe it more accurately.

But social media is starting to grow up. The networks we know and love are starting to take on identifiable characteristics, both individually and as a conglomerate presence. As weird as it may sound, we’re getting a sense of who Social Media is as a person.

For instance, when I was eight, I very much remember starting to take an interest in how my hair looked. I’m not sure what it was about the fourth grade (noticing girls, perhaps?) which caused me to care about my appearance, but I did (and got in trouble for doing so! It seems multiple trips to the mirror were frowned upon at my grade school!).

In short, I was becoming self-aware.

Social media is starting to exhibit similar identifiable characteristics. Social media is starting to grow up. It is starting to become self-aware.

If Not “Social Media,” Then What?

As an alternative, and in an effort to identify some of these characteristics, I very much prefer the terms:

  • Relational media
  • Real-time media
  • Live media

All three, in different contexts, make much more sense than “social media.” And, as I’ve shared before, the secret of the universe is in the true naming of things.

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Justin Wise

Justin Wise

Justin Wise is the Strategic Communications Director at Monk Development (, a web strategy and solutions company. Justin also serves as the co-director for the Center for Church Communication (

Justin on ChurchLeaders   Justin's Website

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