Social Media has taken the 21st century by storm. The first known social media platform was SixDegrees.com (1997.) SixDegrees enabled users to make lists of their friends and to connect with people they knew. Since then social networking sites have become a part of everyday modern life as we know it. But will its success last? Or is social media a fad?
What is social media? And what’s so good about it?
According to the ever-trustworthy Google, social media is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.”
Onepoll.com states that there are ten main reasons as to why people use social media. Arguably the most important reasons are social interaction, information seeking, time passing and entertainment purposes. Naturally, human beings crave interaction with others. However, it isn’t always convenient to physically go out and meet someone. So, with the help of an internet-capable device and some decent WiFi coverage, social media allows you access to anyone, anywhere at anytime. Sounds amazing, right? Probably because it is.
This is incorporated into the idea of information seeking. What if you needed a person’s opinion on something and you didn’t personally know anyone who could give you the information you needed? Many social media platforms offer an option to search for the topic, company, service or person that you are looking for. Your search term can be as specific as needs be and there is seemingly always someone who has asked for the same thing. YouTube is a great example of this. Sometimes the information you need just can’t be put into words – so you watch a video! YouTube has over 1 billion users who create over 4 billion views on videos a day. Understandably, it’s now almost impossible to find a video of something that isn’t on YouTube.
As well as using social media to find useful things, these platforms are also equally as efficient at finding useless things. Social media gives you access to extraordinary photos, videos, articles, people and more that you never knew you needed in your life. Because of the vast amount of information that’s actually out there, it’s extremely easy to stumble upon new things. Because of this, people are gaining knowledge that otherwise would have been kept a secret.
But does social media have any negative effects?
Unfortunately, for every positive point about social networking there is a downside. The social interactions that we experience online can sometimes be seen as a false sense of connection. It is becoming more and more difficult for people to distinguish between the meaningful relationships that are created in the real world, and the numerous, more casual relationships which are formed through social media.
And while spending your spare time watching videos of cats is extremely fun, it’s easy to admit that social media decreases genuine productivity. That’s why in most schools, colleges and even many workplaces, the use of social media on the computers or other devices owned by the organisation are banned. Despite this, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to use social media sites to find and communicate with clients, supporters and colleagues.
Social media also encourages people to be more public about their personal lives. In many instances you can take a look at a person’s Facebook page and instantly know what they look like, their date of birth, where they went to school, where they work, who their friends are, what they ate for dinner, what film they saw last Saturday and so on! The difference between what is acceptable and what is best kept private on the web is becoming increasingly blurred. Fortunately, a lot of social media platforms offer the choice between what can be seen by the public, what can be seen by friends and what can be only be seen by yourself.
So, is social media a fad?
To summarise, social media is massive. And since the beginning of its existence it has not stopped growing and the general opinion is that it will never stop.
Social media is an immense breakthrough in communications technology and to prove its power to the people view the below video for the latest stats and facts on the Social Media Revolution 2015.
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