I remember the time of Myspace and Xanga very well. Myspace was my first experience with social media, and Xanga was my first experience with blogging. Most of my friends were on Myspace, and a handful of us were on Xanga, but social media was nowhere near as prevalent as it is today. It was a thing that people did for fun in their down time, not a crucial method of communication (at least not in my circle of friends). Today, people use social media for an increasingly wide variety of important communicatory activities.
I found this really great article that discusses 5 ways in which social media is changing our daily lives, the first of which is where we get our news. The author talks about how he checks Twitter and Facebook first thing in the morning to see what news stories his friends are talking about before venturing to CNN or another trusted news source, which is something that I do as well. If I see a news story pop up repeatedly on my Facebook feed, then I know it’s probably something of interest to me since I either, a) like my Facebook friends and share similar interests with them, or b) keep them around to entertain, inform, and sometimes even irritate me with their differing opinions.
Another one of the 5 is how we start and do business. I have a friend who is trying to break into the entertainment industry and has recently formed a company with his creative team. In addition to a professional Facebook page, Tumblr, and Twitter for the company where big announcements are broadcast, he also has a para-professional Twitter account where he discusses a wide variety of topics, including technology. He has acquired a few followers with a very large audience who could potentially spread his ideas to millions of people. As he says, this is the type of social media that lets us network with everyone. Social media is undoubtedly changing the way that businesses start up and gain steam.
A final one of the 5 ways that social media is changing of daily lives in terms of communication is what we reveal. The author discusses how people used to try to present an image of themselves that appeared to be in constant control, completely confident, and knowledgable. Now, the communication paradigm has shifted so that the goal is to reveal your humanness by being more upfront about your thoughts and feelings. I very much agree with the author’s assessment here since it is a shift that I have experienced in my own communication. I sometimes tell groups of my Facebook friends about how my day to day experiences are affecting me, and in return I receive genuine support, encouragement, and advice that makes me feel heard and appreciated.
Of course, there is a fine line between sharing and over sharing, which is something that I think we need to be very careful of. While we want to make sure that we are coming across as human, we also have to be careful not to come across as totally out of control. There are some things that people just don’t want to know, and it can be downright irresponsible to broadcast some of the most intimate details of your life to millions of people. As with any new technology, there is a learning curve. As long as we keep using social media for meaningful communication with one another (I doubt that will cease anytime soon), I think we’ll eventually get most of the kinks worked out.