Is New Media Violating Small, Town USA? Do They Enjoy It?

This year I decided to spend the Labor Day holiday outside of Dallas, about 4 hours away, nestled in the Texas Hill Country, while resting at my family country home in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Over the weekend I came across a quote that perfectly captured my intentions for the weekend, “Spending One Day in the Country, Makes a Month in the City Worth It…”

For those not familiar with this quaint, German settlement just outside of Austin, Fredericksburg is full of delightful entertainments to make a weekend go right along.  Whether you find yourself drinking wine amongst the local vineyards, or popping your head into antique shops down Main Street, when city folks arrive to enjoy their weekend stay—those ugly, mundane to-dos that occupy the majority of one’s day back in the city simply melt away.  I took a breath and paused.

My intention over the weekend was above all things to forget about work.  As I mentioned before I work in Social Media outside of pursuing my Master’s degree in Emerging Media and Communications, so for one weekend only I wanted to perhaps, not live La Vida New Media for a brief 72 hours.  Where better to do this than in the quiet country home with no landline and no cell phone charger.

Here’s the thing…as much as I wanted to leave my La Vida New Media in Dallas for the weekend in exchange for a quite country get away… it turns out that even in Small Town, USA folks can still live some type of New Media Vida, and I think they’re kind of enjoying it.

When my parents bought our family house in 1993, Fredericksburg was half the size it is now.  It had half the stores; half the restaurants but some of the same stores I walked to on Main Street when I was 10 are still in the same spot 17 years later.  However 17 years later, they promote a Facebook Fan page.  Take Hondo’s for the example – the local cantina watering hole has a lively 405 fans, 4 or so photo albums, 7 outside link connections, and an Events Tab…

I have to wonder— Would Fredericksburg have experienced the tremendous amount of growth over the years had it not been for the development of new media?  The underlying question to all of this, narrative anecdote aside, is the following: Is the power of New Media Violating Small Town, USA?  And more to the point, are they enjoying it?

It’s quite a quandary… by exposing a small town to a vast and infinite audience online, they run the risk of garnering up such media attention and tourism that eventually the powerhouse brands will attempt to move in and secure a piece of the market share that the local brands have enjoyed a monopoly on for so long.  However, without continued growth, new development, and change the small town will not generate an evolving presence that will allow it to keep up with the times.

It’s a tough question to answer and I am still scratching my head over the question even though I had a glorious 4-hour car ride home to mull it over.  If you do get a chance to head down to Fredericksburg any time soon, be sure to stop by the local burger shop, and drink a beer at Hondo’s, buy an antique map of Texas, then fan the places you liked upon your return home.  I hope that Fredericksburg will remain the rare exception that can continue to enjoy growth but still keep it’s country charm while livin’ la vida new media—

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa Kovacevic, Principal - CommPlan Consulting
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 08:31:11

    Hi Amanda, Interesting to ponder. I think we are losing a lot of the small town charm so I understand how you feel. In Charleston, we have armies of tourists visiting which is great for the local economy, but changes how things are run and built here. We have so many new housing developments in the historic area I live in that even local traffic during “rush hour” is bad. Many Southern town and small cities have lost that Southern “charm” due to overbuilding and crowding.

  2. npluim
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 12:46:53

    You have an interesting question about new media supporting the growth of a small town. I am also from a small town, but it has been experiencing the opposite effect of Fredricksburg. Since I have left 5 years ago almost a third of the population has moved to larger neighboring cities.

  3. kknight08
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 16:25:07

    As with your other readers, I think you raise some interesting questions. The area here that I think deserves further consideration is the relationship between new media and civic development. Do you think someone would drive in just to go to Hondo’s? Or once in the “small town,” does new media facilitate exploration? Or, another option, is the spirit of exploration and serendipitous discovery undermined by the constraints of viewing a town through its networked presence? Sounds like a research project in the works…

  4. Alan H. Rose
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:02:02

    I would have to think that more people, once in Fredericksburg or knowing that they will go by or through the town would be more investigative than just pure social media presence. As in, if someone lives there or will be visiting, they may look up places to go and since the shop, restaurant, etc. has a Facebook fan page, the visitor may be more likely to explore the venue. However, are most people who live in Fredericksburg using Facebook and Twitter or have they retired there or lived there for a good portion of their lives?

  5. gagner de l'argent sur internet
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 09:24:41

    Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a
    quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over
    the same subjects? Thanks a lot!

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