Since colleges and universities are inherently social communities, consider this column a summation of the issues addressed in my previous article about this essential part of the “Sharing Economy.”
For, the question is not one of if but what: It is a query about what goods and services college students will seek to barter or “swop” without spending money, jeopardizing their security or wasting time.
It is, by virtue of the many forms of social media available to the public in general and students in particular, an inquiry about the real-time needs of tens of millions of undergraduates and graduate students alike.
It is a snapshot, via Facebook and Twitter (and sundry sites reserved for uploading photos and videos), of the union between technology and personalized communication.
I offer this statement as the Vice President of Marketing for Swoppler, which enables users to “Trade with Trust.”
I write these words because I believe the medium – the media, plural – is, indeed, the message; that among the vast array of things college students want or need – including textbooks, tutoring, travel partners, temporary transportation, clothes, games, music and mobile downloads – there is a platform that best suits these respective commodities.
For example: A photo on Instagram, with a brief caption, may suffice for alerting friends and followers about, say, inventory for a high-end pair of sneakers or a top-of-the-line suite of sports equipment; while, on the other hand, a detailed post on Facebook may be necessary to give something else its due, in a more extensive and persuasive fashion, with links to and excerpts from user testimonials.
The point is, the Sharing Economy is another name for the Social Economy; it is an additional way of confirming that there are online tools – that there are social media applications – that complement the message . . . and the messenger.
To the extent that the two are one, that a voice resonates because of the sound and style of the means of delivering this or that bit of news or information, I say: Amen.
I welcome intelligent conversation, in comparison to the “cyber shouting” (in 140-character-count missives of vitriol and violent rhetoric) that undermines the value of social media.
And yes, social media has incalculable worth – when we use it to have a civil dialogue, to swop stories and trade in the language of a recession-proof marketplace.
To swop is, therefore, to record, broadcast, post, publish and/or tweet.
It is an invitation to be as sociable, online, as you should be offline; to socialize among a diversity of ages, interests, vocations and avocations; to have your personality emerge from, not recede into the silence and darkness of, a dynamic environment of discussion, respectful engagement and enthusiastic participation.
College students can be social media ambassadors of great influence and credibility.
They can inspire others to do likewise, benefiting a cause of local importance and global significance.
Let that movement start now.
Let it thrive organically, and expand exponentially.
Let it happen, without false limits and artificial rules.
Let it succeed, period.