Social Media is really like sugar – once you taste it, you don’t want to spend a day without it. Relatively speaking, it is only a few short years ago when technology brought social media into the modern world, and yet it has become an irreplaceable medium of communication.
It was 2004, and young Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook. Of course, there was the failed MySpace platform before that. Other successful and pervasive social media platforms now include Twitter, Google +, Instagram, etc.
You can also add WhatsApp, Viber and others to the list.
The revolution in communication brought by social media platforms is most potent among people under 25 years. This is because, for them, social media has existed for most of their life and using it is just the natural thing to do.
You can’t say the same for people over 30 years of age, but even then the penchant to use social media is equally strong. A study by Pew Research actually shows that the use of social media among adults in the years 2005 to 2015 grew exponentially.
The power of social media really lies in the fact that it is an extension of human interaction and expression.
At a very deep level, Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s timeless words, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” is a representation of the deeply human need to communicate every day about several different subjects. It shows that humans will communicate in some way, even at the peril of their lives. No one throughout history has been able to successfully stop human interactions through communications – whether in spoken or written form. The future will not be different.
Long gone are the days when there was often a long distance and time between the source of communication and its destination, especially in the written form.
Now all forms of communications – written, spoken and visual travel at literally the speed of light around the globe as well as reach billions instantly. The sheer speed and reach of every single expression, whether lame or sublime, is mind-boggling.
The extraordinary power of social media is also evident in the fact that most government institutions around the world have been unable to promulgate reasonable rules to regulate it completely.
These include legislative bodies and regulatory institutions. In some cases, they have been simply too slow to respond, and in others, the actual speed of social media development simply makes it impossible to lay out rules that resonate with the real world use among millions of people.
The challenge experienced at governmental and institutional levels is also felt at personal level. Think about it this way: as an individual, do you have the experience of being trained on the appropriate use of social media before becoming a User? Could you possibly envision the transformation brought about by social media in just over a decade?
Many professionally-minded businesses that care about their reputation realise this, so they spend resources to engage communication strategists to help them get it right.
For most of us on a personal level, our experience was simply getting a new phone or tablet, getting online and signing up to the different media platforms – for free.
Over time, we posted billions of photos, videos and comments including views on a range of issues.
What was naturally lost on most of us was likely the effect and long-term consequences of our posts.
Besides all these, most of us have very little idea about the technical details underpinning the platform, such as where our posts are saved and how they are used by companies that manage the enormous amount of data with incomprehensible algorithms.
Eventually, it gets to the point – like now – when we wake up and ask ourselves, “what is the problem with social media?”
HapaWeb Media sees no problem with Social Media.
Or rather, the problem with social media is simply the challenge presented by our own human nature.
Most of us are generally not good at dealing with change, including using new tools of communication.
We frequently make mistakes with our communication. That is why we often look back and realise there are many things we have said or written that we wish we didn’t.
Apart from this, good judgement is also an issue. Often good judgment is only as common as common sense among many of us.
Even when we are sure of the correctness and appropriateness of what we have said, written or communicated, it is possible that we are wrong or don’t have enough information to realise we are wrong.
On occasions when we may actually be 100% right, opinions and feelings of other well-meaning people might differ dramatically – and that inevitably creates its own conflict.
But Social media has most definitely come to stay. Like many other social and cultural challenges, it will take both personal and institutional intelligence to resolve inevitable conflicts as millions continue – as they should – to use it.