In this last decade, social media has significantly changed the way we live our lives. From access to information to staying connected with friends, we depend on social media more and more throughout our day. There isn’t an hour that passes that my phone doesn’t buzz letting me know of a news article or a friend’s new post. This blog entry will focus on the various changes that social media brings.
Sharing your world
You may remember that before social media, a person would collect all their photos from special events like birthdays and vacations and keep them in photo albums to share with friends and family when they came to their home to visit. Even if you had digital photos, sharing them wasn’t easy. You could only attach a certain amount to an e-mail meaning you would need to send numerous e-mails. Now through sites likes Facebook and Instagram, you can store thousands of your digital photos on the web and share them with whoever you choose, wherever they may be.
Social media has made it possible to make friends and communicate regularly with people who you would probably never know otherwise. It’s possible to video chat with people who live on different states, countries, and continents, sharing interests or discussing everyday life. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a friend’s group video chat using Google+ as she was putting together an anti-bullying campaign. I was impressed with how we could share our ideas in real-time and see each other face to face.
Not only are we able to meet new people through social media, we are also able to get reacquainted with childhood friends and long lost relatives by simply searching their names. Through Facebook, I have found quite a few of my old classmates and we are able to keep in touch. I can’t even think of a practical way to find that many people without the use of social media.
Social media has allowed us to share our opinions on limitless amounts of topics almost as quickly as it takes to type it. Instead of sending your letter to your local newspaper and waiting days to see it printed in the editorial page, your words could reach people from all over the world through a blog post or commenting on an article on a website while the issue is still fresh in people’s minds.
Rethinking Your Marketing Strategy
Businesses have had to change the way they communicate to their customers because of social media as well. In the past, a business like a department store would send quarterly or annual catalogs, information on upcoming sales, and discount coupons through the mail to customers on their mailing lists. The costs for these kind of large scale marketing techniques can be considerable. Now with social media, customers can be made aware of sales through tweets on Twitter, a company’s social media page, an e-mail or through a post from a fellow shopper. Businesses maintain a social media presence to raise brand awareness as well as follow what customers are writing about their products or services.
News on your schedule
Watching and reading news articles has been changed forever by social media. Your daily newspaper used to be your go to source for news as your started your day. Now, you can access news right from your cellphone on any number of news sites social media pages. In the past, unless it was a serious news story where the regular television program you were watching was interrupted by a ‘Special Report’, you used to have to wait to watch the news at specific times during the day to find out what was happening in the world. Now, there is access to news the instant it happens 24/7 through countless websites. Witnesses to newsworthy events will almost immediately start filming with their cellphones and the videos are seen and shared by thousands if not millions of others in a short period of time.
Finding the Lost
A huge benefit of social media is its ability to aid in finding missing persons. Amber alerts are posted to sites such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AMBERalert) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/Amber_Alert ) when there are children missing. This spreads the information to more people in a short amount of time raising the possibility of someone finding the lost child. Thankfully this use of social media has shown some success. (See http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-amber-alerts-saved-a-child-2015-5 )
It’s Not Perfect
I feel there is also a huge downside to social media. Everywhere you go, people are looking at their portable devices instead of their surroundings. You see videos of people walking into walls or falling while looking at their phones. “…in 2010, more than 1,500 pedestrians were checked into emergency rooms nationwide because they were distracted by cell phones – a number that had almost tripled from 2004.’ (Ho, 2013) An extreme example of this would be a news story that I remember from a few years ago where a person with a gun was walking around a train car full of passengers who did not notice him until after someone was shot. (Ho, 2013)
You see less people socializing without having to turn to their phones. People seem more willing to write a text or comment on a post than interact in person. As more social media sites and apps are created, I don’t see that trend changing anytime soon
Ho, V. (2013, October 07). Absorbed device users oblivious to danger. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Absorbed-device-users-oblivious-to-danger-4876709.php