As we begin to discuss social media and is impact on mass communications as a whole, we must first define what it is and how it came to be. The Dynamics of Mass Communications defines social media as a set of Internet tools that encourages content sharing and community relationships. Users are able to create online communities by exchanging, distributing and receiving content information. Social media has rapidly integrated itself into our personal and professional lives over the past decade or so. Information is more available to the public today because of social media.
The history of social media started with the BBS (Bulletin Board System) in the late 70’s. Most BBSs were involved in illegal or other shady practices like adult content, virus codes, and instructions on hacking and phone hacking, but BBSs were the first type of sites that allowed users to log on to it and interact with one another. This interaction was a lot slower than what individuals are used to in today’s society. Genie was created by a General Electric subsidiary (GEIS) in 1985 and was an early online service. It was a text-based service, and was considered the first viable commercial competition to CompuServe.
This specific service was created to make use of time-sharing mainframes after normal U>S. business hours. Not too long after, America Online (AOL) started as an online service and made great strides with making the Internet more universally accessible within the United States. In 1988, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was developed and used for file and link sharing and even keeping in touch with others. Readers could classify it as the father of instant messages as we know it today, though it was limiting access to most people.
Touching the topic of early social networks, dating sites are sometimes considered the first social networks. Dating sites began to crop up just as soon as people began to get online with the Internet. These sites allowed users to create profiles with a photo and contact other people. Let’s not forget about Classmates.com, but dating sites and Classmates.com rarely allowed you to keep a friends list and profiles appeared to be severely limited. The actual social networks like Six Degrees and LiveJournal were a tad bit more advanced than what dating sites had to offer.
Six Degrees allowed users to create a basically-static profile while LiveJournal was created in 1999 and was a social network built around blogs that were constantly updated that encouraged other users to follow one another and form groups to interact. It wasn’t soon after that social interaction had found its way to online games. World of Warcraft is one the most famous for allowing players to interact both in the game would and on related forum and community sites.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games became popular in the early 2000’s though there were indeed other role-playing and other games prior to that. Additionally, the early 2000’s brought more advanced social networks and social media to the playing field. Some examples that most people are familiar with would be Friendster (2002), YouTube (2005), MySpace (2006), Facebook (2004), Tumblr (2006), Twitter (2006), and Instagram (2010). All these networks took a toll on millions and billions of people around the globe. People are more connected and up to date because of them.
Social Media as a whole has brought a lot of positive effects to the world as we know it today. Social Networks started as a place to connect with your friends in an easy, convenient, and free from charge way. Social networks play an important role with social media. It has allowed individuals to connect with old friends from school, co-workers, and even with complete strangers. It has also provided us with the opportunity to build back a lost relationship or even better relationships with whom that are unable to meet us personally, and involve them with our lives and even take input into their personal lives with specific events that are happening with us.
We are now able to communicate our thoughts and perceptions over different topics with a large number of audiences. Our voices are heard louder than ever with the help of social media and social networks. For example, with the Trayvon Martin case, people used social media to conduct marches and protests. On social networks, like Instagram, users blocked out their profile picture to show their involvement for wanting justice for that specific case.
We have the option to make groups with people who are like minded and share the related news with them and ask for their opinion or input about the topic. Far as businesses, they are using social media and social networks to promote their own products and there are a number of customized applications that are being made on social platforms, whose main and only purpose is to promote the product or brand given to them.
The negative effects of social media seem to be quite questionable. Studies have shown that the extensive use of social media can quite frankly cause addition to the users. Throughout the day, people tend to feel the need to post something on their pages and check other posts as it has become an important part of everyday life. Extreme usage of social media had resulted in isolation of the individual.
The level of human interaction has decreased tremendously and people appear to be less active. Individuals would rather check their smart-phones or tablets than actually picking up a book or a newspaper per say. Interpersonal communication has reduced and there aren’t many face to face communications and meetings being held because many people have lost their full ability to converse while being in the same room.
Social Media is also affecting the productivity of people. Users are more distracted. Again, I must state that people are so caught up in texting, blogging, updating a status, and posting any and everything that it to the point where they cannot get specific things done. A prime example would be texting while driving or being on a social network while attempting to write a research paper or even complete homework.
According to media bistro, the average person spent three hours and seven minutes online each day in 2012. It appears as online media becomes more popular; other media sources become less popular. People are not reading magazines, newspapers, listening to the radio, or watching television as much as they used to. As the popularity of social networks and online video increases, so does our time online. YouTube has more than one billion users that visit their website each month. Seventy two hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The list just goes on and this also goes for Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Pinterest, Hulu, and Instagram.
It seems nowadays that there are social and user-generated sites for just
about every activity you can possibly imagine. There are social shopping sites and social financial planning sites. There are even sites to share goals and meet like-minded people. Sites to plan your travels and share them with others. There are so many apps and sites that accommodate the average person for me to say that social media has indeed made life better for people. Social media has become a huge part of millions of lives worldwide.
On the other hand, social media has made everyday life harder or horrific for everyday people. Because social media has grown in popularity and mainstream, it can be used by stalkers to track their victims or even find new ones. Social networks make these privacy settings available to users to help prevent stalkers and predators from being able to see their update. In addition to stalkers, we must also consider cyber-bulling. Cyber-bulling has increased over the years and has affected a lot of social network users. These things can make it harder on individuals.
One final thing that needs to be discussed is the fact that the people who have degrees to be covering the news face their job being at risk. News stations and news broadcasts are now up with competition against social media and social networks. This is because people use their mobile devices to obtain the news now a days. This is because it is more convenient to access things from your phone than to take time out to turn on the television or go buy a newspaper. This could make everyday life harder for them if they lose their job. Social media has come a long way since the days of BBSs and IRC charts and social media continues to evolve on a daily basis.
With major social networks and social media sites making changes and improvements, it’s sure to keep evolving in the coming years. While in many ways social media has allowed us to share everything from the simplest to most sacred events of our lives with more people in real time, it has also taken away from the action of “living in the moment.” The one thing we can all conclude is that social media is not just a phase, and it most definitely won’t be going away anytime soon or at least until something better comes along.
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