Knowledge is power. Many of us recognize this statement but few of us understand the impact of social media in our lives today. Social media has changed our lives and how we communicate in ways that we cannot fathom. By just the touch of a screen or the click of a button, we can find out what has happened all across the globe. In a short moment, we can get inspiration or discover truth and injustices happening in our global village. Social media has the power to build or destroy a person, a company or business and in some instances, cities and whole countries.
“Throughout much of human history, we’ve developed technologies that make it easier for us to communicate with one another.” (Carton 2009)
Social media has become a global phenomenon in the 21st Century. However, Social media is not a new concept – it has been evolving since the birth of human interaction. From primitive days of newsgroups and listservs. This was followed by the introduction of early chat rooms. Social media has, therefore, changed the way we communicate, gather and share information, and given rise to a connected global society.
In 1973, Dave Woolley and Douglas Brown at the University of Illinois created talkomatic, the first Social Media communication platform. It is a multi-user chat room application that became a sensation among users in the PLATO System’s online community. PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) was the first generalized computer-assisted instruction system.
Since then, the ‘Golden Age’ of social media actualized in 2001 with popular social media and networking sites coming up from the earlier known Myspace, Hi5, Flickr and Skype to Facebook, which revolutionized how we communicate online. Facebook is perhaps the most popular Social Media service to-date with 2 billion users around the world, nearly a fifth of the world’s population. Today, you can even find your grandmother on Facebook. YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Google +, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat are other social media sites that have stimulated our online communication lifestyles.
The fastest way to grow a business entity today is through social media and networking. Businesses, whether small enterprises or corporates and even media personalities or influential people, use social media platforms to market or brand themselves. This has become an effective and relatively affordable way for businesses and people to scale markets.
The SOMA Awards 2017, also known as the Social Media Awards, was held over the weekend. The awards have seen 5 years of Social Media recognition in the country through positive impact. This has become a revolution as people realize social media can be used to bring change, spread information, and educate the people.
Social Media has been used in the education sector where students can easily collaborate and communicate among themselves and even with lecturers. In politics, voter registration has been seen to increase. Social media users are more likely to vote when they see their online friends have voted or are taking part in active politics. Social media is also known to drive political change. Social Media encourages people to be more aware of social issues in the world by empowering users to change themselves and their communities.
Social media can, therefore, be used to drive positive change in a society and will keep rising as the most basic mode of communication and digital marketing. How far it will rise, we can only guess.