People who “proudly” state that they aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, or any social media platform, baffle me. I told someone statistics show that one in five couples meet online and she retorted that Facebook was the leading cause of divorce today, so she and her husband had deleted their accounts. I explained that people have been unfaithful since time began and the marketplace had simply changed. If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest country in the world by population, but she shook her head.
When it comes to social media, I maintain that the rules of engagement are still being written and should continue to be written. A gun in the hands of a soldier inspires confidence that our country is being protected. The same gun in the hands of a teenager walking down the street, inspires fear. I was social media shy once, then I started blogging. I now embrace social media and by extension the internet.
In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press system that aided the rapid mechanization of bookmaking and led to mass production of books. The implications for mass media were astounding.
According to Wikipedia, “the relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalism …”
Sound familiar? Yes! The Arab Spring, various hashtag advocacies e.g. #bringbackourgirls, viral videos, the Occupy movement, etc.
Some say the advent of the internet and prevalence of social media is similar to Gutenberg’s work, which democratized knowledge and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy. The internet is rightly called the information super highway.
We’re living in exciting times for anyone, yes, anyone who has something to say. Social media provides an accessible platform to disseminate information and make possible bilateral intimacy, where audiences can engage with producers of content.
Not everyone is delighted with this development or taking advantage of it. A video producer grudgingly pointed out that the cutthroat business of producing videos has been made harder by social media because people and companies can upload videos made with their cell phones on YouTube. The same could be said for writers who compete with free content online. However, when trends shift, smart people look for new opportunities or create them.
I’m increasingly convinced that someday in the distant future, paper books, CDs, and DVDs will become antiques, displayed in museums and purchased in vintage stores, with articles in Wikipedia written about the history of them. These articles will be read, listened to, or watched on devices that support online content, think tablets and the Apple watch. Don’t believe me? Maybe it won’t happen in my life time, but history is on my side.
©Timi Yeseibo 2016
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