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Book Review: Share This! by Deanna Zandt

Share This: How You Will Change the World with Social Media

by Deanna Zandt

Social Media: It’s not just for sharing cat pictures anymore.

This is the central argument in noted activist and social media cheerleader Deanna Zandt’s short, simple, and informative book, Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Media.

There has been a lot of hullabaloo recently about the negative effects social media has on society. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, have all been accused as being instruments of antisocial behavior, cyberbullying, and the death of intellectual thought, specifically amongst teenagers and young adults. One can see the veracity in this argument: the quality of the articles, pictures, and videos shared on social media usually includes celebrity news, dumb macro images, long lists about how great the 90s were, and other mind-melting, attention span draining and intellectually insulting tripe.

But that’s not a problem with social media; it’s our problem. Put another way…

If Deanna Zandt is the Social Media Activism Messiah, than “Share This!” is the New Testament of New Media. Ok, a bit extreme – Zandt herself says in the preface that the book is not an End-all-be-all, just an introduction. (One could argue that something as static as print  is an inadequate information vessel for the ever-expanding field of new media. A wiki might be a better idea…)

The book is broken down into five sections. Zandt explains the inherent need of human beings to tell stories, from cave painters to camp fires to the present day, one hundred and forty character blasts of experience. Storytelling, she says, is the root of social change. We hear a black kid is gunned down in Florida, we react, and we march in hoodies at Union Square.

The bulk of the book is an initiation into the world of social media for the uninformed. She covers the issues of authenticity of information – how to determine what we read is factual – and the growing concern for our privacy, as well as a nuts-and-bolts description of how sharing works.

The final section of the book goes over tips on the relatively new field of crowdfunding, setting up a web presence for both individuals and organizations, and “slacktavism” – or the drive-by Likers.

Zandt is an unapologetic optimist; cynics may find her approach to be difficult to understand. Her assertion that empathy is an inherent human emotion, that by sharing something, we can imbue others with an emotional connection to a cause, is a generous one. However, her writing is fantastic, oozing warmth and humor, and the information she provides is straight forward and easy to grasp.

Overall, Share This! should be seen as a gateway to the fascinating new frontier of social media activism. You can read about it all you want. Now you have to do something.




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  1. natashia t

    Dear Sinclair,

    You summarized the book really well. “The bulk of the book is an initiation into the world of social media for the uninformed. She covers the issues of authenticity of information – how to determine what we read is factual – and the growing concern for our privacy, as well as a nuts-and-bolts description of how sharing works.”
    Share This! is definitely a fascinating introduction to the exciting world of social activism.

    Two years after Share This! was published, we have been getting more and more comfortable with crowdfunding. Kickstarter happened. The gift economy that was probably just beginning to emerge then, is now familiar in our virtual lives. The top down structure that Zandt described is still in place, but more and more people are choosing to be active and not passive. A recent example is the Occupy Wall Street movement. The group who camped in Zucotti Park had no single lone leader. It was very democratic, every issues was discussed and decisions were made together.

    Zandt introduced the concept of building social currency on the web. This makes me realize just how important is our persona on the web is. It has encouraged me to be more responsible and verify a post before sharing it. Having a social media network account has become the norm that it is wierd for someone not to have a Facebook account. Employers search for information on potential candidates on the Internet and a Facebook account is always the first on the search.

    The final section of the book is very useful, as we can never be too advanced in social media to not need a pointer or two. I’m particularly interested if she’d update her book, would love to hear her opinion on the current gift economy situation. I wonder what she’ll say to the people who’s choosing NOT to be on social media at all.


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