Commentary Search

Communication: 420 characters or less

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Brooke Brzozowske
  • Chief, 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
STATUS: dwelling online may be seen as a pathetic excuse for social foreplay, but it's okay, I'm alright with it...problem is, are my supervisors? I think they're starting to get it. F2T? Smh.

I once had a supervisor ask me why I felt the need to post a certain status update on Facebook.
It only took a few seconds with my mouth open and a blank stare on my face for me to realize, well, I didn't know how to respond to him. My job as a public affairs, communications expert did not prepare me for this simple question, "Why?"

How could I possibly communicate this decision to my boss, who has children my age, why exactly I felt the need to vent (what I thought) a fair frustration on my wall. This was going to take some thought. So I begin...

Our generation is infamous for its self-entitled nature. That is MY wall, and MY thoughts. Why shouldn't I be able to share them? Why should my leadership have a say in my PERSONAL time, sought out via social networks?

I once heard a speaker explain to other public affairs members that my generation (and those that follow) do not internalize news until they tell it to others. This is how we process information. Makes sense right? It explains blogs, walls, chats, etc.

Facebook arrived on scene during my freshman year of college in 2004, and life forever changed for my peers and me. Now, we had instant access to whomever, whenever we wanted. I am a grown woman, who now squeals in delight when I discover a new profile that has zero privacy settings. While dwelling online may be a pathetic excuse for real human interaction, it is strangely enough, comfortably invasive.

There is a video on titled "Social Media Revolution." The numbers in this video bring to light some interesting thoughts.

Reportedly, it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million viewers. TV took 13 years, and the internet took four. Guess how long it took Facebook to double that number? Nine months. It also states that 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14 percent trust advertisements. Again, confirming we'd rather process information from peers before we trust a large organization or company.

The video also claims that Generation Y and Z view email as "passé." Light bulb!

When my supervisor asked me why I made a particular post public on Facebook and not via e-mail to friends, I couldn't answer him. But this is absolutely why. In my mind, and it appears to be so with my peers as well, e-mail is an ineffective way to personally communicate. The thought to send an e-mail to people with that statement NEVER even crossed my mind. Communication nowadays is in 420 characters or less.

How many times have my parents e-mailed my personal account, and it takes me days or weeks to get back to them? My mother now understands if she wants a quick response from me, she won't e-mail or call - she'll text. And heaven help me if my parents ever decide to start a Facebook account...I might as well start investing in cats and gold shoes. My social life would be over.

The Facebook generation has always been rather nonchalant about having a viewing portal into their most personal thoughts and images. However, things have changed slightly after Facebook opened its virtual doors to grownups and children. This is where things have gotten a little tricky.

I recently saw someone make a post on their wall about how they were tired of everyone "complaining" about things going on in their life. Ironic, right? They went on to say that they wished people would just reconnect with friends and share pictures of their families and friends, etc. My response? "Join a scrapbook club."

Let's not forget, Facebook was originally created for one audience - college students. Who are good at what? That's right, complaining. As a matter of fact, philosophers will argue that there will always be one thing that binds all human beings - that no matter what race, religion or creed, everyone understands SUFFERING. It is our nature to suffer. And sites like Facebook provide a way to entertain and communicate that suffering. So sue us.

With all this being said, I think there are several important lessons to take from social media:

1) While it has taken commanders a while to understand, they are starting to get it - social media is THE most effective way to communicate to and with their Airmen and their families.

2) With #1 being said, expect their presence on your home page, wall and in your chat. They are out there. And they consider monitoring your activity part of being a good wingman.

3) Knowing #2 to be true, you must make a choice. Either participate in sound, social media etiquette or choose your "friends" wisely. "Your friends say a lot about who you are." True statement, even on Facebook.

4) Last but not least, don't shoot yourself in the foot and end up in Facebook "Canada." One misunderstood comment could cost you more than your career can handle.

If you are reading this comment in our weekly "Warren Sentinel" and like the content of this commentary or would like to comment further, please visit our official FEW site at or