Several years ago there was once a society where communication was either in person or on a telephone. Friends would hang out after school and make plans in advance for the upcoming weekend; who’s party they were going to, what movie they were going to see, whose house they would meet up at, etc. If you wanted to contact someone and they weren’t home, you were basically out of luck until they were able to get a message that you wanted to talk to them.
Growing up in the 90s I was able to watch society go through a drastic technological change; first computers, then cell phones, then high speed internet, then social media. When I was about 7 years old I remember my mom calling me into the computer room, super excited about something she just downloaded onto our computer. She clicked a button and a video played. If I recall correctly the program she downloaded was quicktime. Between this program and pogo.com (an online game site) I spent a lot of my time at home on the computer. Of course back then it took 30 minutes to load a 2 minute video, but with new innovative technology at your fingertips you were willing to wait as long as it took.
Moving into my teenage life, computers became more and more essential to our everyday lives. They would put computer labs into schools, you were able to communicate through e-mail, prepare your taxes, etc. It was around this time that my friends all started getting cell phones. I was in grade 7 or 8 (2004-2005) when all my friends started getting these things. When I asked my parents for one I would get the response, “You’re 13 years old what could you possibly use a cell phone for!” and looking back they were right. Back then text messaging wasn’t as popular as it is now, cell phones were basically only for calls. Over the next couple years T9 texting was invented. This is what truly popularized texting.
I received my first cell phone in grade 10 on my 16th birthday, a nokia 2220, probably the biggest piece of crap I ever owned, but hey, it was still a cell phone. Suddenly my social life dramatically improved. Spontaneous plans to go hang out with friends were made, history class suddenly are more enjoyable (even though the teacher just watched us all stare into our lap), and you were able to contact anyone at any time of the day. Between cell phones and MSN, communicating with friends and family was made so much easier than ever before.
While this was all happening social media started to make its appearance in the technological world. Friendster and MySpace were the first to crack into the social media scene. Back then it seemed like everyone had a MySpace page. It felt like the first time you were able to connect with anyone in the world via a website. You were able to go to your favourite celebrity’s MySpace page to see what they were up to, and if you had the courage, send them a message directly. I remember thinking, “this site is awesome” but in my opinion, and I’m sure many others would agree, it wasn’t until Mr. Zuckerberg clicked the button one February night back in 2004 to make his website live. I feel as though I don’t even have to clarify what site this is, but for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, it was Facebook.
Facebook started off as a social media site just for Harvard, but eventually branched out to different universities, then countries, and now the world (with exception of some places in China). I remember getting many invitations through email before I finally gave in and made an account. I never knew that joining a website could change the way my life operated so much. I would guess I spend on average at least two hours a day glued to the site, but in all seriousness, what doesn’t Facebook have? You can “creep” your friends and see what they are up to, talk to others who are on Facebook via instant messaging, an all-round good time killer and an excellent procrastination tool at that.
Fast forward to present time there are now many social media sites to choose from. In 2012 the top ten social networks were Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, MySpace and Wikia respectively. They all have their own unique ideas but offer one main feature; the ability to be connected. Social media is changing the way the world works. By living a day in age where news travels across the world in milliseconds, we are always able to access what we need to in very little time.
I think that social media may shape the world one day. There are so many people that participate in this phenomenon which allows us to create a connected network intelligence. The best part of social media is its ability to self-organize. Experts in different fields of study are able to work together and come to a general consensus. Other experts are able to build on this work and the process just continues to repeat. Subjects from health innovation to politics are able to be looked at and the ability to solve the high complex problems seems so much more attainable. We all have the same goal in mind; a better world. Social media has its criticisms but this is a new age, let’s let this happen.