The supposedly newfangled rave to emerge on the web scene in the recent months is called social media. I am unashamedly a tech head – I have vast knowledge about computer and web technologies. It's my “thing” as we Latinos say in the barrio. As a tech guru, I've scratched my head in curiosity because social media is not new. Social media has been around since the inception of the world wide web. The Internet is about communication between people across vast distances. We have been communicating through forum boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, and a host of other types of electronic media for decades. What is so new about social media?
If we are to define and clarify what social media is (and what it is not), we also need to define social media marketing also known as internet marketing - another of my specialties.
According to Wikipedia, social media marketing is the act of using social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other collaborative Internet form of media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service. Common social media marketing tools include Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
Latinos, what exactly are we doing? Are we hocking our wares for the purpose of creating personal wealth under the guise of unifying the Latino communities under one banner? Let me make one thing clear. I don't have a problem with making a living. I do have a problem nevertheless with using the Latino plight for personal gain.
If we're going to see any consolidating movement within the Latino community, Latinos must address the dire and cruel issues that are affecting our people as a whole. It's not a Mexican problem or a South American problem. It's not a US citizen versus an undocumented immigrant problem. It's not an educated versus uneducated issue. It's a Latino problem. If affects us equally. It's OUR problem.
Why is it our problem? I'm a native New Yorker who has lived in the South and the Mid-West for a combined total of 20 years. That's a little under half of my life. I have personal experience with extremist hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation. These people don't care whether we're Mexicans, Puerto Ricans or other Latino culture. They don't care if you're a third gen college educated Hispanic American doesn't know a lick of Spanish. In their eyes, we are all the same. In their eyes, we're less than dirt. Their goal is the preservation of their race and the eradication of minorities by any means possible (think Hitler). Within the last decade, these extremists have risen to prominent positions within the news media, political, and business arenas. With subtle methods and fear tactics, they promote their agenda. You don't believe me? Right wing political radio show host Rush Limbaugh recently called for racially segregated buses.
What are we, as Latinos, doing about it? It is my contention that we cannot depend on current politicians to fix the Latino plight. We must do it ourselves by creating and supporting Latino-centric programs the empowerment and education of our people. That means taking some of the wealth we create and infusing it to the betterment of ALL Latinos in the United States. In other words, we need to give back to the community. Not to give hand-outs but to inspire. Not to create co-dependency but to help educate.
We must morally AND financially support Latino politicians and leaders across the US that will fight in Washington DC for Latino issues. We must encourage by words and deeds our young people to aggressively strive for their educational future. Do you realize that as of 2007, there are 35 million Latinos in America? (UPDATE: In early 2009, the US Census Bureau reports that the Latino/Hispanic population in America is at 50 million.) The Latino population is larger than the entire population of Canada! I don't know about you, but I see that we possess a titanic sized voting block in America.
Otherwise, the Latino social media movement is merely simple hype, smoke and mirrors and snake charming.
Think about it.