Like. Tweet. Retweet. Reblog. Favorite. Share.
It’s apparent—if not downright obvious—that the way in which we interact with one another is changing. The way that we as humans have come to share and absorb information is not only drastically different from the way such things were done during our grandparents’ time, but it is immensely different from the way things were done by Mom and Dad as well.
Heck, it isn’t a stretch to say that the way you conduct your day-to-day life is not the same as it was just a few years ago. It is, for fear of sounding cheesy, a brave new world.
Think; how would you have kept in regular contact with or tracked the most miniscule exploits of your most obscure social acquaintances just ten years ago? Unless you happen to be some kind of hyper-social weirdo, you probably never even cared enough to ask yourself that question.
That is, until the omnipresent phenomenon of technology called social media took our daily lives by storm and literally everyone and their mother went online.
To put things in perspective, a quick search of WolframAlpha.com (a site that compiles data and algorithms into usable information) reveals that among the two most popular social media sites—Facebook and Twitter—the number of visitors each site recieves daily is a combined 750 million; more people than the populations of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain combined.
This is not even counting the 11 billion page views that Facebook garners daily, which is nearly double the population of this planet which we inhabit.
Yet, if it still seems that calling social media omnipresent is hyperbole, simply stop reading for a moment. Just see how long it takes to notice any kind of solicitation to “follow on Twitter” or “like on Facebook”. The world around us is now speckled with tiny “f” symbols and fluttering Twitter bird logos on everything from advertisements to business cards to this very publication.
And if you are reading this article online, then it’s likely this little experiment ended before it even began.
Despite this exposure—or perhaps overexposure—just what exactly constitutes social media and just what is so “social” about it can be a bit of a conundrum. In literal terms, “social media” refers to electronic communication through which online communities share information among groups and individuals.
Besides the two main examples I’ve used, this definition could describe a blog, an internet forum, or any one of the myriad sites popping up for the sole purpose of giving people an outlet through which to share information with people online.
A fine primer, certainly, but that does not truly explain how the general “we” use things like Facebook or Twitter.
We have the ability to share any and every aspect of our lives with just about anyone at any second, but more often than not, our motives are self-serving. We post photos and share news not so that we’ll inform and enrich others, but instead for our own narcissistic satisfaction that others “like” us.
An article in The Atlantic published in May by writer Stephen Marche surmised that this hyper-connectivity has diminished the crux of human interaction to the point that we are simply always “hungering for response”.
Social media has turned us anti-social. We have the technology, but it’s too often squandered on the need to get one more follower, one more favorite, one more “friend”.
Yet it need not be this way. Just like the caveman made sharp tools not to eviscerate himself, but to rise above the primordial muck, let us too take these tools and use them for what they are best at: connecting us.
Again, it’s a brave new world. It’ll probably help to have friends.