Bilingual Baby M

As a writer and blogger, I would be the first to tell you how important social media is in getting your work out there, sharing it and finding kindred souls who find something of value in your words.

woman's hands typing on keyboard at Adventures in Expat LandThat value may be information, inspiration or entertainment.

If you’re really fortunate, occasionally you win what I call the Writer’s Trifecta and hit on all three.

Pulling back the curtains on social media’s supportive role in wordsmithing, it’s referred to as ‘building your platform’.

You work hard to develop, maintain and (hopefully) grow the community of readers who choose willingly (!) to come along on your writing journey.

For me, I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to engage, share and connect.  That’s in addition to email (multiple addresses to help keep projects sorted), and of course, my blog.

Why so many? Because I believe firmly in the concept that you engage people in the medium they prefer. And because I clearly see that it is a generational thing: young people do not, repeat, do not use email.

That’s for the ‘older generation’. You know, those of us over thirty forty types.

Each social medium is very different in terms of who uses them and in what manner.

They have an unwritten code of conduct as to how you meet and interact with others, what and how you say something, and how you share information and acknowledge those whose contributions you enjoy.

Leave it to my good friend and fellow expat Russell at In Search of a Life Less Ordinary to write a post that hints at the challenges and potential dark side of what I think of as the ‘social media time suck’.

It raised interesting and provocative questions, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Social media as a time waster isn’t limited to those of us who use it in our work.

In our personal lives, who hasn’t fallen down the rabbit hole searching the internet for story after story, article after article, blog post after blog post?

I dare say that most of us are guilty of spending a little too much time online, flitting between email, Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Skype and Google+. Facebook even cheekily reports on who’s playing what online game and with whom.

Yet we all know the advent of these social media venues is precisely what keeps us connected and in the loop with family and friends. I can’t imagine not having FB messaging to share up-to-the-minute info in a crisis, or Skype to video chat with my elderly parents and other family members.

By now you may be wondering how a post about social media ends up with the title of ‘Bilingual Baby M’.

This is where the positive effects of social media come in.

It was during personal time catching up on Facebook awhile back that I learned my nephew was making a concerted effort to learn Spanish to be able to converse in his wife’s native tongue to their soon-to-be born baby girl (the aforementioned M). They’d decided to raise M bilingually from birth.

As an aunt, I’m proud of the dedication of M’s parents to building and strengthening their family unit.

As someone in a committed partnership (that would be with Husband), I appreciate the importance of each spouse letting the other know that they truly value the entirety of the other.

As a writer, I hold dear the honored ‘show, don’t tell’ doctrine: my nephew and his wife aren’t simply telling people that raising M bilingually is important, they are demonstrating it by their actions.

And as an expat, I know the richness that comes out of combining cultures, rituals, language.

Shortly after M was born, I found an article about new findings in the study of language learning and multi-lingualism. I happened upon it while checking out the website of one of my favorite newspapers, and I shared it with others on various social media.

But it was more than that.

Suddenly thoughts about the recent birth of M, her parents and the latest research findings came together in my mind in a light bulb moment. The ‘aha’ result is my most recent article in the Telegraph, Can Bilingualism Make You Smarter? (their title, not mine), which coincidentally was published the same day as Russell’s post.

Often, as a writer, you keep your family separate from your work. In this instance, I was thrilled to be able to meld the two together.

Call it a labor of love.

[Image credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, portfolio 1786, FreeDigitalPhotos.net]




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