Thanks to my dear friend Anna for sharing a snippet she read recently about Social Media on the blog Whispering Gums:
“What do I think?” Anna asked me.
Hmmm ….. I thought. What does Social Media mean to me? How has it impacted society? Has Social Media altered the way I interact with others? Are there negatives and positive that I’ve not yet pondered?
Introduced to Social Media a couple of years ago, like others, I initially found the online communication world to be different and foreign. Email had been fine for me for a long time. But once I realized the immediacy of messaging and texting, my interest was piqued! While blogging was my first encounter with Social Media, exploration of Twitter soon became a mecca discovery! How cool I thought, to be able to share so much with so many people with just a few strokes of the keyboard. Being able to link up with friends on Facebook and to explore professional interests on LinkedIn is great!
Not a day goes by without me checking into my various accounts. Social Media constantly feeds my hunger for knowledge, for updates on social and professional interests. It’s a source that keeps me up to date, not just with what others are thinking and doing, but with news, progress and well ….. just about anything that is of interest to me. Yes, I admit, there are challenges to finding the time to keep up with all these outlets. But recognizing that Social Media has become an important part of my life has helped me make the adjustment needed to simply find the time. As I scramble from one task to the other, I have only recently realized that it is my daily routines that need to be adjusted to help me find the time to tap into the range of online sources that are of interest to me. Checking my digital feeds on a daily basis is, I have realized, on a par with checking the contents of the letterbox which sits at the front gate of our home.
Without a doubt, Social Media has had a huge impact on society. Never before has so much information from such a wide source been available to us. No longer do we have to find information. Information finds us. ‘Like’ a Facebook page or subscribe to a blog on an RSS Reader and a stream of information is fed to us. Sharing with others has never been easier. Within minutes, news and alerts sweep the globe. Social Media eliminates distances. Social Media has made our world seem far smaller.
Has Social Media altered the way I interact with others? Most definitely! Today, I am able to communicate with far more people than I ever have before. Social Media has also been the catalyst for ‘linking’ me to people, that in real life I would never have been able to meet. Social Media is a ‘leveller’ enabling anyone to interact with world experts, politicians, professors. Distinctions based on age, sex, class or occupation are immaterial within Social Media. The ‘open’ society born of Social Media is, I think, a powerful boon of beneift to us all.
Undoubtedly, Social Media has had an impact on me. By virtue of being more available and accessible, I guess, as suggested in this quote, I have become, like others, a more ‘open’ person. Is this bad though? I don’t think so. I actually feel that availability, accessibility and openness are a misnomer. While I may be ‘out there’, the truth is, I engage only as much as I want.
Clearly, we all have different experiences with Social Media. While some of us have just jumped in feet first, others have slowly tip-toed around lurking and feeling just a little too intimidated to voice an opinion. Browsing the comments left on this Whispering Gums blog post reflects a wide range of opinions. Just one line left in a comment by Nigel Featherstone struck a chord with me though. I couldn’t have said it better myself:
Social media is here to stay and, like television, it’s our job to work out how to use it.
And while you are considering the role Social Media is to play in your life, you may want to pause for a moment and ponder this very cool infograph created by MarektPlace Maven