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In the era of everything instant, the perception of living life has dramatically changed. From the perspective that life is to too hard to live, it has now become an adage that life is easy and living it is should be much easier. Thanks to the comfort of modern technology and globalization, people are becoming more interconnected and interdependent.
One of the great features of the unprecedented rise of the global cultures is attributed to the revolution of the Internet and social media. Almost everything has become so easy and so instant. Currently, the worlds by which define our reality have been changed by social media. We can do anything and everything through a globally wired network that enables instant communication. Socialnomics is “the value created and shared via social media and its efficient influence on outcomes” (Qualman 2010, p. xxi). Moreover, socialnomics is a revolution driven by people and enabled by the social media.
A case in point is the most popular social networking site called Facebook. According to a blog in Birds Eye Media (2010), Facebook recently celebrated its six-year online presence. Its growing presence has enabled people to communicate more freely and have access to news and important updates. Information exchange occurs within and among the people we interact with in this new media platform. It provides the opportunity to reconnect with friends and loved ones. Social media works like a digital word-of-mouth where information dissemination is just a click away. In this age of globalization, social media networking has significantly altered the way we view realities and handle our relationships with other people.
The Impact of Social Media
Social media affects the way we write and speak the written word (Sherman 2010). Sherman noted that writing is more concise because the presence of a limited character spaces in Facebook and Twitter. People are challenged to convey their message to friends and the world within a 140 character limit. The task of writing something in a shorter and concise manner in Facebook as well as in SMS has changed how we communicate using different spellings and abbreviations (Sherman 2010).
In another website article, Laurie (2010) cited six aspects in which social media has arguably made permanent effects on the lives of the people and the manner in which it is lived. The first aspect is child literacy. Children of today are more literate than in previous years, according to a survey made by The National Literacy Trust where over 3000 children were included. It was observed that a correlation existed between children’s engagement in social media and literacy. Today, even school-age children have active Facebook profiles. This has become a major turning point as users of social networking media vary from the very old to the very young. Social networking has enabled easy access for children in searching for answers on educational or social questions and in sharing what they know by posting links and videos gathered from the Web. Secondly, social networking has led to ambient intimacy since it allows people to be in touch with loved ones with a different level of regularity which people would not normally have access to. Communication has become so ambient that we can use it wherever we want it. Facebook culture paved the way for the development of new levels of behaviors in relationship in general. Moreover, relationship statuses can be instantly changed and somehow be regarded that relationships can be had easily. It also becomes a venue for groups and various advocacies to form a niche and have their own chatroom and discussion board. In this manner, information is spread like a viral infection.
Another aspect of change impacted by social media is the evident accessibility of knowledge (Laurie, 2010). The quote “knowledge is power” applies greatly in this Information age. The way information is produced and shared has changed with the advent of the Internet. Instant information can be viewed from popular search engines and knowledge in this manner has become a collaborative effort. The same thing with the advancement in the literacy level of children, anyone can be as knowledgeable as the person speaking in front of a lecture. Our own desire for knowledge is there and we can only ask ourselves if we want it (Laurie 2010).
Social media has also reinvented politics (Laurie 2010). Accordingly, younger people are encouraged to be actively participating in matters of politics. Obama’s successful election was helped by the proliferation of advocate groups created in support of his candidacy. Different countries used the networking culture to share their political ideologies via Facebook. Fan pages where created where the number of “likes” is akin to the number of “hits” in YouTube. This also enables the exchange of dialogues between politicians and the common citizen. Someone can just post a comment and share his sentiment over a wall in a Facebook page and this could be read by all. All these are just signs of the influence of social media in politics and it is not surprisingly increasing from users all over the world.
Marketing in the age of Facebook has greatly contributed to the immense popularity of products advertised on it. Businesses now are compelled to engage in social media for marketing and advertisement because the economic potential of social media increases marketability in an easier and cheaper manner (Qualman 2010). Subscriptions to costly newspapers are not relevant when consumers are pushed to a timelier and free service in the net done at the comfort of your home or in the exact point where you are.
Marketing and advertising is transforming itself from an industry reliant on mass market channels to one which must embrace the power of the consumer and attempt to engage in conversations (“Has Social Media Changed Us” 2010). While advertising is not a dying industry, is has changed dramatically in its platform and in that consumers now have the power. The last areas in which Laurie (2010) addressed on the effect of social media is the usage of the news as a cultural currency. Consumers are viewed as active participants of the network created. News can be gathered and can be passed around people within the network.
Facebook is a perfect example of this tool as it is our tendency to connect first with our loved one and the people we encounter on a daily basis. Faster than the speed of light, gossip can be spread easily, status updates can be a source of a heated online argument where everyone on the network can track and read the long thread of dialogue. With all these, we have become more sociable, and somehow it is making us an epitome of “social” (Laurie 2010).
Greene (2010) stated that social media has changed the lives of people in three ways. The idea of traditional media being replaced by social media makes it a biased look on how this revolution changed lives. Older people need not be scared of these new social media as the assimilation of both can be done without hints of failure because this is the direction our world is heading (Greene 2010). Moreover, the possibility of making friends around the world other than your workplace opens up your horizons to a better understanding of how to live in the 21st century. That is what Facebook does. Making friends and socializing becomes much easier compared to outside of the networking world. Some may be apprehensive but others are learning the ways and means on becoming more socially active and visible. Engaging social media encourages conversations and exchanges of ideas. A timid person who is afraid to say his opinions can now share his side without the fear of talking to someone in personal way.
The efficiency of work and the level of productivity has also increased with the use of social media (Greene 2010). Cohen and Feld (2011) stated that social media has made business world more collaborative, fun and dynamic for everyone. But a level of inclusivity is on the rise in the exclusive world of networking (Greene 2010).
The last important area which Greene (2010) tackled was the death of privacy. Today, 92 percent of two-year olds have an online record in the United States. Everything in life can be archived as the years pass. The issue of privacy is a matter that was taken seriously by Facebook administration as well as other popular networking sites. It is an advantage to take a look at the disclaimers popping out when creating an online account as this could cost someone’s private life. Privacy settings can be changed and the level of privacy in Facebook can be customized according to your restrictions. Even reporting abuse and fraud is incorporated in the interface of the networking sites so that people can block and delete hasty, violent and abusive language. As quoted from Brian Solis, “we are entering an era of publicness or publicy, where are solely responsible for creating and defining our online persona” (Greene 2010).
Casciato (2010) believes that social media has changed the way social discourse is made between and among individuals. Conversations on the Internet are mediated and are available in real time. Social media allows one to make status updates, tweets, and blogs and text messages, without worrying about traditional social conventions such as dress. Conversations initiated over Facebook allows one to interact with another person from another part of the globe even in one’s underwear. Social labels have also been change because of social media. In the past, people who are glued to computers for more than the 8 hour a day requirement for jobs are either labeled as “geeks” or “nerds.” Nowadays, being cool is being equated to how much time you spend on Facebook and how updated you are in posting status, pictures, or links. Moreover, the dynamics in Facebook can be considered narcissistic because speaking in the third person while updating what you are doing, feeling, or thinking is like staging one’s own reality show (Casciato 2010).
Social media networking has also changed the way personal relationships are handled. Casciato (2010) stated that breaking up in the digital age has become “unbelievably messy.” The dilemma of removing someone from the network friends list, untagging someone from a post in order to separate one’s identity from a past love would create a heavy burden of distinguishing reality from the virtual world.
Social media has also made an impact on workers’ productivity. Procrastination in the workplace has become efficient ever since social media networking sites became popular (Casciato, 2010). The first thing that occupies the mind at work is to check and update one’s status in Facebook. Meanwhile, features have a tendency to distract, whether it is a chatbox that pops up and engages you in a conversation or a red notification flag which appears to tell you that somebody posted on your wall. The cycle eventually goes on with hours of productivity lost in the process (Casciato 2010).
Social media or the so-called “Facebook effect” has changed how we socialize, gather information, and work in many ways. Communication, literacy, business and marketing, relationships, politics and culture are the key areas noted to have been greatly affected by this vast and growing social media hype. It has become a company that has changed social life in the United States and around the world (Kirkpatrick 2010). It has been visible and powerful in shaping how we look at the world. While it has its numerous benefits, social media should be used responsibly without disregarding the basic principles of ethical conduct.
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