Social media has changed the way we live in many ways. It has changed everything from the way we communicate with each other to where we get our news from. It happened so fast that people hardly realized just how much their lives had changed. Personal and professional communities are now intertwined and within arm’s reach and our once small social and work networks have now expanded to proportions that were once unimaginable. Just like in any revolution or period of expansion, there are many positive and negative aspects involved in the world of social media.
The world of social media is complex and nowhere near its pinnacle. It’s exciting to think of where it will take us in the years to come. Needless to say, our communication has sped up tremendously since social media was introduced. It has made it easier to keep in touch with people all over the country or all over the world for that matter.
Social media has even made finding a date easier to a certain extent by multiplying the size of our social circles. Social media allows people with similar interests to connect and converse. It allows professionals to network easier than ever before. Social media allows businesses to advertise for free and actually seem somewhat human to consumers. It also allows for cost effective campaigns and strategies for growing businesses. It also has the power to drive traffic to a website or even a real business. Some people think that social media is adding to human interaction while other people think that social media sites are basically replacing face-to-face interaction.
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Online interactions can become a substitute for actual human contact. It can encourage people to say or do things they never really would have done or meant to do, due to the fact that they feel like it’s not reality. It can lead to covert dealings and perhaps lead to infidelity. This social media frenzy has allowed bullies to spread destructive information about others and they can even bring out the nastiest conversations because people feel anonymous in some instances. Social media can ruin the image of a company due to the wrong angle or brand image. It can also have a negative impact on worker productivity. Either way you look at it, whether you like it or not, social media is changing our lives in one way or another. One aspect of society that will experience the greatest amount of social change over the next ten years is social media. Social media is going to grow larger and become more encompassing of our lives and able to capture more of our lives. Because we capture more of our lives the people in our social circles will spend more of their time living vicariously through us.
Therefore, they will spend less time learning about society and less time developing their own interpersonal relationships. Already social media encompasses several different media forms. Currently, these forms are music, writing, video, and pictures. Soon social media will include other forms of communication, such as augmented reality. Projects like Google Glass place a screen in front of your eyes all day; the glasses can recognize people’s faces and provide information. The glasses are able to listen to your conversation and provide relevant Google search results, for information you might want to know during the conversation. Therefore, interactions between people will be more fact-checked by information people make on the internet. As augmented reality projects like Google Glass become more widespread and developed, people will be constantly plugged into the internet and to the “hive-mind”. Eventually people will start dreaming their lives on the internet in part or in whole. You will become more of a public person, and in doing so more shaped by the society around you. Social media changes at the speed of which the technology that supports social media is developed and embraced. For new developments in social media to be embraced the new technological developments must be useful and intuitive. People need to have a reason to care about a new development.
Society embraced the sharing of pictures because we like to capture glimpses of other people’s lives. We have embraced video because it expands upon pictures. Words were the first versions of social media, and were exchanged because they are the essence of communication. As long as people exist we will continue to seek new ways of exchanging information. What we call social media now will be but a small fraction of what social media is ten years from now. Eventually social anthropologists will look back at these times just as current social anthropologists examine cave paintings. We can ask ourselves, “What are the engines that are driving this change in our society?” For example, there are many reasons that drive people to use the site know as Facebook. Research resulted in nine ways that drive people to use Facebook; to conduct a survey, upload photos, putting your page together, posting an event, ask a question, create desktop backgrounds using images from an event, and you can even post a picture of the day. The news media even use it to run a contest and give away merchandise, and posting of videos. Facebook has become an overnight sensation for social networking, and what makes this so amazing is that Facebook did not even exist until 2004.
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Three college students created it to allow other students to network and meet each other, and it has caught on with people around the globe. Facebook has had many impacts on today’s technologically advanced society. It allows people who probably never would have met each other in person to communicate; it creates new relationships and friendships, and it places distance between people who could communicate in person but instead choose to communicate online. Facebook is nothing more than a medium for communication, and yet, it is so much more than that. At a glimpse, a person can learn everything from what gender a member of Facebook is, to what religion they believe in, what school he or she attends, and their likes and dislikes, with just a click of a mouse. An article in the Network Journal of Communications written by Brent Leary, compares and contrasts popular social networking sites and his recent experiences with them. He talks about being a member of over twelve different social networking sites in which he has spent time using each network. One of the main interest in this article was the author’s insight into his most recent addition to his list; Facebook. He also notes that business application providers such as Yahoo, Finance, Zoho, etc. are building widgets to work with Facebook in order for Facebook to infiltrate further into the business networking field.
The most appealing characteristic of Facebook is that they have been able to grow from what was once only a college based network, to a worldwide network with many different areas of interest. Most importantly they have been able to do this while staying very user friendly, professional, and private, unlike other social networks such as MySpace. This has allowed Facebook to become as financially valuable to its creators as it is socially valuable for its members. It is very interesting to see how Facebook has not only established itself in the networking world, but in the financial market as well that people use it for. Experts estimate that many people now spend at least 50 percent of their waking time online. For many, a large part of this time is spent in social networking sites like Facebook. Facebook on the surface is a socially acceptable networking site for students and others to connect, share experiences, and meet old friends. It does say some disturbing things about how our society is adjusting to the age of technology, and it brings into question how a generation of Face bookers will deal with the challenges of the real world in person like career, family, and success. There are tons of data that show that the social media wave (hype) is going to continue and is here to stay.
Take Facebook and Twitter for instance. Many large associations and companies advertise on these social media platforms like the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL to name a few. From a company stand point CBS, CNN, Wal-Mart, and Apple advertise on these social media platforms also. According to Michael A. Stelzner, “Social media marketing involves engaging people with online social networks to generate exposure, increase traffic, gather insight, improve search rankings, enhance customer relations, build strong brand advocates, generate quality leads and grow sales” (“Quickly Grow Your Business”). Social media helps businesses grow around the world. This is one major reason why social media is going to continue to prosper. Social media involves a lot of youth in today’s society. For example, social media has greatly influenced youth to vote or seek education about this year’s Presidential Election. According to Foster Web Marketing, “The younger generation (18 to 35 years old) is the largest group of social media users. They pretty much rely on social media and other internet sources for information. With the structure of social media, information is easily skewed as users exchange it with others. Because someone has to pass on the information to another, they can add their 2 cents along with the relevant content, meaning the end result can lean heavily toward one side or another”.
It was said that in this year’s Presidential Election, the youth played a big role in the reelection of Obama. Social media played a major role this election and is projected to play a bigger role in the next Presidential Election. Social media also allow news companies and news stations to get information out to the world within minutes. Good or bad, social media has impacted the world in a major way. It has allowed long lost friends, family members, and lovers to reunite. Since its arrival, social media has changed the way the world socializes in general. Undoubtedly, social media is capable of bringing people together. They potentially create friendships and partnerships, expose users to advertisements therefore developing business endeavors, and allow individuals who would otherwise remain silent virtually shout their thoughts and opinions to a broad range of strangers, friends, and acquaintances alike. There are certainly already acknowledgeable pros and cons to social media. With the cyber doors wide open, people are able to learn a lot about someone before they even lay their own eyes on them: name, address, looks, personal preferences, etc. It is easy to assume that many social media users are alienating themselves from true personal contact with potential friends and partners.
Granted this will not always hold true, younger generations who will grow up under the direct influence of social media will come to believe that it’s okay to meet all their acquaintances through the internet which would ultimately hinder their social skills, confidence, and charisma. In order to measure the future impact of social media on society, over the next decade we will inevitably have to look to efficient research methods for accurate conclusions. Sociologists rely on surveys to gather information about both small and large populations- mostly behavioral and opinion information. “Surveys are one of the most commonly used quantitative research techniques in sociology.” This method of research is the most effective because surveys allow the sociologist to capture an opinion of a large group which will therefore give the data that is needed to site the information. This information will show the change accurately and promptly. Random sampling for the survey will give everyone an equal opportunity in participating in the survey. A diverse amount of people will result in finding an abundant amount of opinions about this topic.
We have seen the social media change in just months since new phones have emerged such as the iPhone 5. Apple is one of the number one leading companies in technology and their Apple products are constantly updating. From the article on the apple website, it states, “We use the iPhone to log in and launch an infrastructure management client. I can screen share with senior architects and lead them through the challenges they’re facing. Being able to do that anywhere — without a computer — is a major benefit to us. We can respond to customer needs much faster and solve problems on the go.” As we can conclude from this quote, the change is inevitable because it’s more convenient, and convenience is what we love. Social media has undergone such a significant change since its founding. This is due to all of its possible uses. When social media first began it was for the purpose of enabling it’s users to locate and communicate with others. Now it has broadened from that into many other possible uses. There has been such a variety of benefits, for both individuals and business, to using social media. For individuals, one of the benefits has been that they have been able to keep in touch with their friends and loved ones. They are able to see what they have going on in their lives and contact those that they have lost contact with. Individuals are able to stay abreast of the different activities and functions in both their area and other areas.
They also use social media to spread the word of functions, using this as a free method of invitation. Social media has also been a beneficial tool for children as well. Kids gain confidence from interacting with others online, which has long term benefits. Online communities are very diverse and expose children to different viewpoints, technologies and ideas. In addition, this is the easiest way of communicating internationally. For businesses, they have caught hold to the trend and have acknowledged the benefits and possibilities to grow their corporations. This has become used by both large and small businesses. They use social media to both promote and survey their businesses. They have saved an abundance of money by using it as a method of free advertising. Many businesses have grown, become established, or have been saved by using social media. They also use this as a way to widen business contacts and as recruitment tools. Social media will experience more social change than any other in its class because as times change, need will change. Social media will adapt to meet the needs of society. There will be different and more advanced searches and possibilities for both individuals and businesses.
Technology has become the forefront of advancement in today’s society and social media will be modified to meet the needs and encourage different endeavors for its users. With the already present benefits of social media, there will continue to be advancements that will add greater opportunities for growth than any other area in the next ten years. We all enjoy a little social media one way or another in today’s society. Some of us, in fact many of us can’t survive a day without updating our MySpace, Twitter, or Facebook. With the help of these social networking sites, the internet has made our lives as Americans extremely simple and easier. These sites allow their patrons to not only connect with their friends, but are very useful for things such as employment, networking and even getting your brand as an artist, whether music, drawing or any other talents that you may have, out and viewable by today’s society. But with time always comes change. Whether good or bad, change is the one constant entity in society. The functionalist theory of social change best describes the change in social media because these sites have changed the way we as Americans live and adapt to this new phenomenon. Functionalism is a macro level of analysis, which basically describes how each level or part of society contributes to society as a whole and when something changes from the norm the ability to adapt to that change.
Take this for example; milk of course comes from cows for the most part, so it would originate from a farm somewhere in Middle America. After being collected from the farms, it would be transferred via most likely an eighteen-wheeler to a factory for processing. After being deemed consumable, it would then be bottled up and placed perhaps on another eighteen-wheeler, plane or other mode of transportation to be transferred to your local market, and later delivered to your doorstep by your milkman. In this instance, the farm, the eighteen-wheeler, the factory, the market and the milkman are all parts of society working together in the milk industry. But what happens if you were to remove one part of the process. Milk delivered to your front door step isn’t very common anymore, which took the milkman out of the equation. Society didn’t just stop enjoying the great taste of milk; they simply went to the market themselves to purchase the milk. They adapted to the change that was presented to them. Social media has no doubt changed society as a whole, but have we as a society been able to adapt to that change? Without a doubt, the answer is yes. A lot of parts in certain processes that are being used in today’s society have experienced changed due to social media.
Take Facebook for example and the effect it has had on the hiring process. Generally, face to face interviews were used to develop an idea of what type of person an applicant may be, but now if you throw Facebook in the mix, employers can take a look at potential employee’s page and develop an idea on that person’s character from their page. In this instance an interview may not be needed, and if you do get an interview, the employer may have developed an idea of your character and has decided whether or not you’re going to get that job. The internet changed the hiring process and we as a society have adapted. Functionalism best explains the change in social media and social networking. Our society has shown that change will always occur but it’s the ability to adapt to the change that actually brings the change to light.
In conclusion, social media has forever changed the way society works, whether it’s the sharing of an idea, the communication of news, or the availability of a product or service. Society today is on the verge of a new way of existing that it’s never experienced before. No longer will people from one side of the world be really able to say that they will never see a person or communicate with someone from the other side of the world ever in their life. No longer will people not be able to share an idea, if they really want to share it (no matter how radical it may be or no matter how many people may disagree with it). No longer will the spreading of information or the expressing of an opinion be able to be completely silenced. As long as there is a person who wishes to express their opinion, share their music or art, or simply say hello to another human being in another country or culture, social media will allow them to do so.
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