One of the best features of social media is how quickly content spreads. Articles, essays, videos, and blog posts that would have been overlooked become valuable sources of information. They keep me informed and aware of the world’s activity, from the complex to the inane. I find links all over the place, relying upon Twitter and Facebook as well as my e-mail inbox. I subscribe to newsletters that cull content for me based on a specific interest. Most of the time I skim my RSS feed for general updates but occasionally a link commands my full attention. I target the feeds of certain friends and individuals because I trust them to share interesting content. I don’t use Google Plus but I can see its advantages in this light. I don’t care about a high school peer who finished her first graduate exam. Puh-lease. But I do care about my friend working tirelessly on Occupy Seattle and the photos she shares of the protest.

I admit: sometimes the web serves as an entertainment device. I watch TV online on a regular basis and I keep an account with YouTube to save my favorite videos. I visit music sites for news on my favorite bands and emerging artists. I follow a few blogs and Tumblr accounts because I like fashion and travel photography and gourmet desserts. Funny videos, new catchy songs and strange discussions brighten my day. I relax a little bit and giggle at my computer screen. I escape, distancing my brain from reminders of college loans that need paying and schedules that must be kept.

Entertainment aside, what’s the real reason I keep up with social media and devote, at minimum, a half an hour of my time every day to it? Every once in a while I click on a link that compels me to put my thinking cap on. The article/post author forces me to analyze an aspect of our society and culture – or better, a foreign one – in a new light. I feel like a more well-rounded and intelligent human being. Social media can be a time suck, but it can also be a powerful tool and resource for knowledge. I may have graduated college but by no means is my education complete. I use social media to learn. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But by no means am I the only person (young or old) doing it.

Here’s a rundown of the articles, posts and videos I’ve enjoyed this week. The first few are book-ish. A couple are opinions, thought pieces, or conversation-starters. Several are pure entertainment and whimsy. In any case, here’s a round-up of my favorite links circulating this past week.

Dear Book Lover: Skimming vs. Reading (via the Wall Street Journal)

Why Teens should read Adult Fiction (via Salon)

A Shelf-Obsessed Writer (via The New York Times Opinion Page)

Modern Love: Don’t Give Me What I Want (via The New York Times)

Shit that Siri Says (via Tumblr)

In His Shoes (via The New York Times)

Awkward Black Girl (episodes via YouTube)

Interactive Periodic Table of Swearing Extends Your Rude Vocabulary (via Wired)

Coldplay – Paradise (via Youtube)

Did I miss something? Post and share your link, article, or video below!
Sharing fresh ideas is one reason I use social media – what’s your reason?

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Amy Pershing / Chevese Turner
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Diane Tober
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Larry Scheckel
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