‘Social Media – Mobile Lifestyles’

REVIEW:  ‘STREAMING: #SOCIAL MEDIA – MOBILE LIFESTYLES”, by Marcia Forbes, Publisher: Phase Three Productions

With the social media newscape enlivened by Facebook founder Mark Zukeberg’s instant billionaire status, it was no co-incidence that my reading material this week was ‘STREAMING: #SOCIAL MEDIA – MOBILE LIFESTYLES”, the book by my good friend Dr. Marcia Forbes in which she analyses the ways young Jamaican adults use social media. The book is a follow up to her earlier book “MUSIC, MEDIA & ADOLESCENT SEXUALITY IN JAMAICA” , her Ph.D. thesis which sought to explain the influence music and media have had and are having on the cultural, emotional and social development of Jamaican youth.

A media professional and film/TV producer, Marcia Forbes has focused her scholarly attention on the most important sector of the Jamaican population, the youth. Both books are written as information, as well as cautionary tales, for parents, teachers and especially the young adults who formed the subjects for her research.  This book focuses particularly on how the spread of digital technology has inspired the spread and popularity of social media by Jamaican youth, especially the use of the global phenomenon Facebook, which she informs occupies 59.5% of the combined top three activities that Jamaicans do online. 

 PREFERENCE FOR TWITTER     Though admitting her preference is for Twitter, especially with its ease of use for smart-phone users, Dr. Forbes gives vivid examples of how social life of Jamaican teens is lived out on Facebook pages and Twitter tweets. The public nature of all social media postings exposes many teens to such dangers as stalking, cussing, embarassment, broken love affairs and sometimes personal danger, while the positives include the ability to do homework online, exchange international news and meet new friends.  Twitter, she prefers, for its ability to maintain instant conversations with multiple users in time of international news such as entertainment events or street violence, with users tweeing links and news at rapid pace. Tweeting has become a viral phenomenon that has grown beyond scope and Twitter is home to many scandals of tweeted photos and outrageous messages.

WELL WRITTEN      The book is a valuable addition to Jamaican education, and I hope it is distributed to all school libraries. Marcia Forbes writes well and in an engaging style of a conversation with her readers, making the information easy to follow and interesting — though I doubt it will hold many young readers long enough to tear them away from their keyboards — laptop, PC, tablet or smartphone.  She ends her book reminding that  Volume 1 is ‘a work in progress’ and a second Volume will follow. I hope that one dwells a little on the use of social media by adults like her and myself, so that the young adults she now reaches can be informed of the digital world they will continue to inhabit as they grow older.

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