Today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic"I Have a Dream" speech. Some wonder, "why the hype?" I meet that question with a raised brow and a confused look. I mean, really? Did you just ask that question?
If you have not had the opportunity to watch this speech in its entirety, I encourage you to do so. Now be warned, some perhaps don't understand the impact of this speech because they didn't make it past the first half of the speech. You see, the most well-known part of the speech is the second half. Why is this so?
Like many great presenters, Dr. King was well prepared and had his manuscript laying before him during what would be the most important presentation of his life. He stayed true to that manuscript for the first half. He read those written words with the same verbal eloquence and hypnotic rhythm typical of his delivery style. But something was missing. The words he spoke in the first half of his presentation were no less important than the second half, but his usually present compassion and conviction felt somewhat muted.
Then, it happened. The change. What caused the second half of his speech to become so passionate and full of conviction that it would go down in history as the best speech of our time? Clarence B. Jones, speechwriter for Dr. King, explains in his book "Behind the Dream." You see, partway through the speech, a friend of Dr. King's yelled, "tell 'em about the dream!" Many didn't hear her make this exclamation, but he did. And the tides turned.
Dr. King left his manuscript behind and began to, as Jones described, take them to church. So, if you have not had the opportunity to watch King's speech in its entirety, I encourage you to do so. Not only is his message an important one that should never be forgotten, it should be shared. Additionally, if you want a good lesson in public speaking, watch and pay attention to when the shift happens and how it makes it inevitable that King inspire and invigorate the crowd.
As a speech teacher, it's my job to make sure my students understand the importance of preparation and practice. We talk a lot about "extemporaneous" speaking, where you prepare the speech in advance, practice it so you know it well, but deliver with little to no notes. It's much different from reading from a manuscript and the difference in impact is clearly evident in King's speech. King had delivered a version of the second half of his speech in a prior presentation, so it wasn't really made up on the spot. But because he put the manuscript to the side, looked up from his notes, recalled a message that he had previously prepared and delivered that message from the heart, he was able to take an entire nation's breath away and positively influence the march toward civil rights.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life project, as of May 2013, 72% of online adults use social media sites. Facebook’s July 2013 report stated it surpassed 1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) monthly active users. Twitter reported on its February 2013 blog that it has 200 million active users. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of people vying for attention. That’s a lot of people showing they have the not-so-recessive jackass gene.
Lucky for me, that means we are not even anywhere near a shortage of jackass examples. Whether they meant to be an example or not, who knows? But really, who cares? Lucky for you, I’m here to teach you how you too can be a part of that dignified club. Keep reading to learn how you too can use social media like a jackass.
1. Inform loved ones of critical updates. What child doesn’t want to find out about his or her parents’ divorce over Facebook or Twitter? It is 2013 after all. Relationships are different now. We must embrace technology and make the most logical use of it. The same goes for lovers breaking up, or family members dying, etc. Delivering bad news in person is overrated and time consuming.
2. Invite all of your contacts to play Candy Crush Saga. Again. And don’t limit yourself to Candy Crush. Don’t forget about Farmville, Fishville, Texas Holdem Poker, Slotomania, etc. Continue to invite everyone to play no matter how many times they ignore the invite. They really do want to play with you. They just don’t know it yet. Oh, and don’t forget to update your status every single time you go up a level or win a game. People are very impressed by that.
3. Be Dirty. Real Dirty. This is important, especially for those of you who either currently have a job, or might be looking for a job one day. Post inappropriate remarks and/or pictures all over your various social media accounts. On Device Research recently reported that “one in ten young people have been rejected for a job because of their social media profile.” But you don’t need to worry about little things like upward mobility and career stability. Who needs or even wants a good job anyway? You really want your friends, family, co-workers, and managers to understand your dream of one day becoming a porn star…or an alcoholic.
4. Be a social media troll. This is especially important to do during football season. I, for one, am so excited about football season finally being here. I can’t wait to sit in front of the TV with a burger in one hand and a beer in the other to watch my favorite teams play while also reviewing the social feeds. Now, this is very important, so pay attention. Make sure that when your team makes a mistake, to say the meanest and foulest things about the players themselves while you’re online. They really do love the personal attacks. Especially college football players. Who wouldn’t love being called “useless”, “an embarrassment,” or “the crappiest player on the team/in the league?” Who cares if they’re barely out of high school? Who cares if some of them aren’t even old enough to buy alcohol? The same goes for any professional teams you follow as well. I mean, they aren’t real human beings with real feelings. They’re just chess pieces in a game.
5. Be a cyber-bully. We all know and understand that we can’t be friends with everybody at school and at work. Sometimes, we have disagreements. Sometimes, our personalities just clash. Sometimes, we just can’t get along. And when we really don’t like someone, it’s unhealthy to keep all of that anger and hatred toward another person in. When you truly detest another person, you have the right to let them and everybody else know it. Now, don’t let that person know you have a problem with him or her in person though. Talking out your differences, listening to one another, and sometimes agreeing to disagree would just be way to mature. You’re not interested in mature. And let’s face it, if you want to be a successful graduate of the Jackass School of Communication, you really need to be a coward about these things and just tear the other person apart online. Over, and over again.
6. Rant. Often. Don’t be afraid to show just how closed minded and opinionated you really are…especially where it concerns politics and religion. These are two areas where you really should have the last say, and you normally do because you are always right. Share your wisdom ad nauseam. And don’t worry when others unfriend you or stop following you. That’s their problem, not yours. There really isn’t anything wrong with showing the world that you have no life outside of politics and religion. It’s especially good to use as many demeaning labels as possible to identify the groups of people you think are always in the wrong. Everyone knows that if you belong to a group, that you all think alike anyway. That’s why you’re in a group. Refer to Republicans as Rethuglicans. Refer to Democrats as Commiecrats. Show the utmost intolerance of other religions and let everyone know that they aren’t going to heaven unless they believe in the same thing you do. If you can’t convert them. No one can.
7. There’s no such thing as TMI. Make sure to post your most intimate, personal, and private information. But don’t stop there. Also make sure to post your family members’ most intimate, personal, and private information. You know for a fact that everyone needs an update on the rash of illnesses you’ve been going through…especially the high blood pressure and bladder infection. And your daughter will not mind at all that you just announced to the world that she started her period. She may even thank you for it.
8. Be mysterious. Everyone loves to read updates, yet be confused by them. And you love it when you just know that your most recent update is the one thing that’s keeping everyone else up at night. Post something intriguing like, “Oh, you think you’re so smart.” and when someone questions you, respond to them with, “Nothing. They know who they are.”
9. Buy a One-Way Ticket. Follow someone just to get a follow back. Everyone knows you can’t have too many friends or followers. As a matter of fact, if you have more followers or friends than someone else, that actually makes you a better person than they are. The stats don’t lie.
10. Post negative comments about… Your interview. Surely that won’t give the new company the reason they need to NOT hire you BEFORE you become a disgruntled employee. Your job. That won’t give the company reason to fire you, seeing as you’re so happy with your work and all. Your boss. No seriously. Post negative comments about your boss. That will give your boss a reason to provide you with the “opportunity” you clearly need to look for another job.
11. Skip school/work and brag about it. There is absolutely no way this will catch up with you. You’re clearly smarter than your boss/teacher and announcing to the world that you played hooky shows it.
12. Write like a Kindergartner. No really. Don’t worry about Image! Being seen as professional is overrated. It’s just your friends and family, and co-workers, and bosses, and pretty much everyone else in the whole world who can look at your stuff on the Internet.
13. Advertise for free! You are excited about your new venture and so too should everyone else be. When a friend of a friend (a stranger) posts pictures of their newborn baby, make sure to take that opportunity to respond and advertise all of the Pampered Chef products they might want to buy from you. Make sure to always take advantage of the most popular pages that you follow. For example, other followers are absolutely going to take you seriously when you post a comment saying “I recently found a REAL legit way to earn an income online from my own damn computer, how much better can it get? No I'm not FILTHY rich but I AM making money. & it's FREE to join!” The owner of the page won’t mind at all…and neither will the followers.
14. Be a social media activist. According to Google, the definition of “activism” is as follows: “The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.” No one can campaign more vigorously than you on social media! You know that you can change the world one popular meme and update at a time. True change after all can happen with just a click of a button. It’s important to show just how serious you are about your causes by posting about those causes as often as possible. By doing this, you’ll look like you’re really engaged when you’re actually doing very little. What a great way to not only show you’re a do-gooder, but to also have others look up to you for your good deeds! Win-win.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
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