Could Social Media Replace Some Books?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

In today’s thoughtful editorial by Franz Wisner, he argues that the immediate, fragmentary nature of most writing on the Internet and social media needs to be complemented by full-length narrative — one constructed over time and after much reflection and deliberation. Do you think this is true? Could social media ultimately replace some books? (Newspapers, magazines? That’s a foregone conclusion — social media has already replaced some of these…)

Some might argue that taken collectively, social media and the Internet in general can tell the whole story — the whole truth, so to speak. But it’s important to remember that while that may be true of the moment — the immediate present — it isn’t necessarily so of the truth as it exists in the future, when time itself serves a different context and people, even those who lived through the events in question, are likely to view and think about them differently than they did as they were happening. It is the reason every generation of historians revisit the key moments in our history and manage to come up with something different to say. The same goes for biographers and historical personages.

What’s more, when it comes to fragmentary commentary like Twitter — which washes over us in a stream of hundreds if not thousands of messages a day — it’s going to take some individual, in their own moment of quiet isolation, to sit down and read them all to be able to ascertain an overall narrative, should there be one. It’s all the more reason why we’ll need books — whatever form they take — more than ever in the digital future.

Tell us what you think about in the comments below.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.