Social Media: Threat or Opportunity?

At a time when Facebook has become the most popular social media with about 800 million users, one can wonder what place the French language and culture can occupy in this new virtual world. Should we be wary of new media or should we believe in its potential to reach the world with just a few clicks?

I don’t think that French is the only language that must be wary of new media, but we still have our work cut out for us: shortcuts, Anglicisms, phonetic writing, bad translations, etc. I believe we all have a role to play in enabling the French language to maintain its nobleness in a virtual world where almost anything goes.

New Digital World

I'm not the only one asking questions about the future of French in new media. The next Forum mondial de la langue française to be held in Quebec in July 2012 has already included the "New Digital World" on its agenda. It will be an opportunity to discuss the subject from an international perspective and discover strategies for emphasising the importance of the quality of the language in an era where everything is fast and information is jostled about.

Taking Advantage of New Spaces

Social media and new technologies allow us to travel without even moving. It is now possible to gather and share information on all continents. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other websites have no borders. Do they represent spaces where all discussions are possible? Do they favor the development of common interest groups such as the Francophonie?

By searching the Internet, I quickly realized that social media can play an important role in the development of the Francophonie. I discovered that in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Association franco-bosnienne will soon hold a conference regarding the relationship between the Francophonie and new media. The conference will focus specifically on the increasing role of new media in intercultural dialogue among Francophone countries.

The French language and culture is doubly challenged in regards to new media communications: it must maintain its achievements despite the influence of new media on the quality of the language and at the same time take advantage of the new space in order to thrive.

As Francophones, should we be wary of the threat or jump at the chance to emerge stronger?

P.S. For your information, here is a list of the most shared French topics on Facebook in 2011. By the way, come visit the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie’s Facebook page!

Philippe Daoust