Social media networks have been around since Friendster, Myspace, Delicious, and YouTube. It just wasn’t as big back then. Today, social media websites are crawling into our lifestyle – changing every aspect of how we live. How many times have we seen Instagram users take photos of their food before they actually eat it? Kids today go to places just to take photos that they could upload and brag to their friends. Students prefer asking homework-related questions on Twitter for instant response as compared to actually going to the library to do some research.
At the individual level, the changes may be difficult to notice. Our lifestyle has probably changed so much that we never notice that we now check Twitter to read the news the moment we wake up to read the news or find out what people are saying on Facebook to find the best movie or product reviews before spending on one. Yahoo!’s The Daily Ticker reported that at the beginning of the year, more than 300 million photos were uploaded on Facebook on a daily basis.
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and all other social media websites, users all over the globe can instantly make connections with just one click. Families separated by education or work are easily updated on each other’s lives just by going online on Facebook Chat. With social media websites, the excuse to be “unavailable” is no longer possible. Additionally, strangers can become friends just by sharing similar news stories or issues on websites. Like-minded individuals can just create a group to make communication easier, so discussing about the latest political issues, movies, controversies, video games, and just about anything under the sun is virtually effortless.
With every technological revolution, the battle between the pros and cons will always be there. Finding new friends has never been this simple but experts say productivity in the workplace is greatly affected because of social media. Addiction is one negative aspect of social media and this self-destructive behavior will reflect in our performance at work. Come on, we are all guilty of updating our Facebook status or tweeting while at work, so much so that a number of companies are starting to ban the use of social media at work – and not without reason, of course.
While we tend to become very active social media users, have we noticed that we might be seeing less of our friends in the real world and more in the virtual environment? Or perhaps, our relationships with other people have changed that we talk so much online but when faced with each other, we run out of words to say. Isolation is one effect of social media. We barely notice that much of our time is spent either on our laptops or mobile devices that communicating with our friends, co-workers, and relatives becomes a challenge if we are in the real world.
Andrew Keen, author of Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us warns us of the harmful consequences of social media. He cautions users to think about what social media does to our lifestyle, how it changes our lives. Is it for the good or the bad? He stresses that social networking is not always social behavior and he goes on to give examples where social media was used to instigate political unrest in certain nations. Despite all his inhibitions about how social media affects our lifestyle, he offers ways on how social media can be used to our advantage.
Today, social media is not just for individuals. It has also turned into an effective marketing strategy, thus the term “social media marketing.” Advertisers, politicians, businesses, and even journalists are inventing ways on how to further exhaust his means. Our lives are starting to revolve around social media though experts hope that we find ways to work around it, not the other way around.