Why Should Social Media be Capitalized in World Building?
One of the most common mistakes made in world building is not capitalizing social media. Generally, this mistake is made by both novice and experienced writers alike. It’s easy to understand why it happens too. After all, when writing about something that actually exists in our real world, why bother changing the name around? For example, if someone were to write a story that takes place in Europe instead of saying Facebook or Twitter.
But you should always capitalize Social Media for one reason: to separate your fictional society from ours.
Social Networking was started over ten years ago on college campuses. It wasn’t until eight years ago that Facebook became open to everyone. That means it took eight years for social media to become mainstream. But, even though it is only eight years old, there are still many people in the world who don’t use social media.
Even more than that, there are many cultures in this world that don’t use Social Networking at all. It simply wouldn’t exist in some parts of the world because they prefer different things or their technological level might not support it yet. So if you were to write a story taking place in one of these places where Social Networking isn’t common and your character tries to explain Google+ or Pinterest to them, chances are they’d go completely befuddled by what you’re trying to say. Your audience might not understand these words either and you’ll lose their attention because of it.
But if you capitalize social media, like this: Social Media , then that tells the reader that these are things that don’t exist in your fictional society yet. It allows you to create a setting where all cultures and societies can seamlessly interact with each other without any problems. So no matter what country your story takes place in, everyone knows what “social media” is and can easily talk about it whether they use it or not. That’s important for world building and storytelling so capitalizing Social Media is always essential when writing about it.
How Should You Use Capitalized Social Media?
Of course, just throwing out words like “Socialmedia,” “Red Facebook” and “Buzzbuzz” isn’t going to be enough. You need to show these terms in use so your character’s world can seem as convincing as possible for the audience to experience.
When you capitalized Social Media, it can become a sort of language barrier between your characters and the rest of the world so there are some things you should do and not do when using those terms:
1 – Do: Use it as a form of censorship.
This is the most common thing writers do with capitalized social media. For example, imagine you were writing a story where your main character needs to get to an important secret meeting but there are spies looking for them everywhere they go. The protagonist goes onto Socialmedia and sees that their spy friend has set up another meeting for them at this cafe down the street. That means they need to get to the cafe fast or else their cover will be blown!
Now, if everyone understands what “Socialmedia” is in this fictional world, then you could easily say something like “they opened Socialmedia.” But since it’s not common to all audiences, you can use something more confusing instead that your character would normally never say. This makes it seem like the spy is only saying this so no one else can understand what they’re talking about and pick up on their secret meeting. It also builds tension in your storytelling because your audience needs to know what’s going on if they don’t catch what “Socialmedia” was in that sentence.
2 – Don’t: Use it in place of real social media websites.
One thing you should not do when using capitalized social media is actually replace the name of a well known platform, website or mobile app with it! For example, if your story takes place somewhere where Facebook doesn’t exist but someone needs to get onto Facebook anyway, don’t write something like “they got onto Social Medias.”
There are a few reasons for this. First, it doesn’t make sense from a narrative perspective to your audience because they’ll wonder why the main character needs to go onto social media but can’t just use Facebook or Twitter. Second, it breaks the immersion of your world building by reminding everyone that this isn’t real and you’re taking creative liberties with historical events and names. Finally, it’s going to be really confusing for your audience if they don’t know what “Socialmedia” is in that context since you never explained what it is earlier in the story! It’s okay if you decide not to explain every single term you introduce into your storytelling but at least have a good reason for using these made words instead of real ones so you don’t lose any momentum with your storytelling.