Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Twitter dating your book?

It’s Wednessssdaaaay! And you know what that means -- UNDERCOVER, baby. For today’s mission, I wanted to take a look at something I’ve seen popping up in YA books here and there. It’s not a trend per se, since this certain motif isn't one hitting you over the head every other release. So for now, let’s just call it a micro-trend. And what's this micro-trend I'm talking about?

Social media in books.

Let me clarify.

At this very moment, I’m sitting in my living room with Biggest Loser playing in the background. I’m wearing my Hello Kitty pajama pants and Halloween spider socks (with a hole in one that’s seriously restricting some blood flow to my little pinky toe, but whatever), and on my laptop I have one tab open with Blogger, one with Twitter, another with Facebook, email to two different accounts, Pinterest, Tumblr, GoodReads, and yet another tab open with YouTube. I mean…seriously? Could I be anymore of a digital cliché? (<-- said in my best Chandler Bing voice, btw.)

The in-your-face presence of social media shouldn’t be anything new to you, especially if you're a writer trying to understand the industry. And you always hear that word, platform, thrown around like it’s the next big catchphrase all the cool kids are using. Blogs. Tweets. Likes. Pins. Followers. Farmville. Oy vey.

That’s all fine and dandy in real life, but…what about when characters find themselves fanning the wild fire world of social media? I know teens text and troll Facebook pages like it ain't nobody's business, but how much do they get into that kind of thing when they’re reading about it? Do they look for books mentioning digital this-n-that? Or do they think it’s gimmicky/lame/irrelevant/preachy?

Do they even care one way or the other?

Honestly? I have no idea. I also have no idea why some teens wear their pants below their bums, or why hacky sacks still exist, but I guess that's not really the point. Actually, I'm not even sure I have a point except that writers always hear we shouldn’t write about things that could date our stories. If we do, we stand a good chance the teens of the future will have NO EARTHLY IDEA what we're talking about. I mean, if you write about things like MySpace or AOL or Facebook, surely your book will be laughed right off the shelf in about two weeks when the next big thing comes along and teens are left scratching their heads at your silly, outdated references, right? ;)

Well, here’s a quick list I put together of YA books – some recently released, some not – that include nods to the digital age:

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. 
Social Media references: Facebook; AOL
Release Date: Nov. 21, 2011

Faking Faith by Josie Bloss
Social Media references: sexting; blogs
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2011

Want to Go Private? By Sarah Darer Littman
Social Media references: online chat rooms
Release Date: Aug. 1, 2011

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Social Media references: MySpace-like networking site; emails
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2010

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
Social Media references: emails; text messages
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2006

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Social Media references: blog
Release Date: April 1, 2002

Obviously those are just a few examples, but it seems even 10-year-old books featuring an anonymous gossip blogger still have an audience today. Huh. Who would've thought? *grins*

How do you feel about books that reference social media sites/emails/Google/texts/etc.? Do you read them? If so, are they relevant or out-of-touch? Let us know in the comments and we'd especially love to hear from teens on this one!

(Oh, and I almost forgot -- from my digital home to yours, something that has absolutely nothing to do with anything unless you like Ryan Gosling AND young adult books! You’re welcome.)

PS (because I never know when to stop talking): Don’t forget to Join the Mission this month! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s a refresher.


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