At the dawn of ‘Y2k’, a generation saw a flood of new technology, from Nokia phones to desktop computers – things were getting a whole lot more accessible than ever before. The concept of ‘pen pals’ came to an end with the onset of new technology, introducing us to a few million people from across the planet and all we had to do was type in ‘hello’. Expanding our friend circle became as easy as a clicking on a mouse. Everything from taking pictures, sharing music, were seen as huge inventions, through new tech like ‘infrared’ and ‘bluetooth’, but the companies behind them were just getting started.
With the advent of platforms like MSN Messenger and other online chat rooms, people were presented with a platform where friendship and keeping in touch took a brand-new meaning. This followed by Hi5 and Orkut in 2004, the definition took an even more divergent approach – we could now rank our friends and see how many people ‘visited’ our profile and give high virtual ‘five’s’ to people. From forums to chat rooms to sending people messages, photo albums etc, became the new online standard of ‘cool’.
The Advent of Facebook
All this was small compared to what was about to come – Facebook in 2008 took the world by storm by creating a unique user interface, where besides adding friends, one could even play a variety of games, start an online farm, adopt an online animal etc. Sharing videos and photos became easier and everyone wanted to see what others were doing. School and college friends who were once out-of-touch, were back with a brand-new online persona.
Content, during the initial stages of the digital boom was primarily focused on ‘social interactivity’. It became a playground for people, especially teenagers to reconnect with long-lost friends and use the interface to connect and play with their new and old friends. Even though mobile phones were available, people still preferred logging on to these platforms using their desktops.
However, Facebook proved to be the king of them all by constantly innovating the site and collaborating with gaming developers to include their respective games on the platform. In 2009, with the introduction of the ‘like’ button, Facebook grew exponentially bigger than all the other platforms put together. Still the content available online was restricted to less than average ‘mirror-selfies’ and virtually interacting with friends.
The "LIKE" Game Changer
With the "Like" button, Facebook changed the entire digital space game . Liking and commenting on post soon became the ‘IT’ thing to do. Sharing or changing one’s online status too became a basis to take a stand on one’s ‘relationship status’. Content here was more often than not ‘what’s on your mind’ statuses that saw few interactions with friends. The eventual years saw another level of sharing, people started sharing many aspects of their personal life online, whether they are dating, or married, or had a kid or graduated university, to voicing personal opinions on politics etc., all were being liked, shared and commented on online.
The rise of touchscreens and multi-platform technology!
In recent times, smartphones, tablets, etc. has changed social networking and the way we communicate with one another entirely. What used to sit on our desks now perfectly fits in the palm of our hands, allowing us to skim through all social media platforms effortlessly.
With the rise in mobile computing, it’s not surprising that the most popular social media platforms rely completely on the capabilities of the smartphone. Photo and video-sharing applications such as Snapchat and Instagram, the latter of which has now a staggering 20 billion images since the app’s initial inception in October 2010, exists entirely on the mobile.
"Like and Share!"
The past two years has seen an enormous use and growth of the digital space. From a luxury, it has become as common as making a call. Content, on social media has found newer ways to bring change, revolution, or launch a movement. The prominence of it has made it easier to spread the word around. The #MeToo movement was launched online to raise voice against sexual misconduct in the world. This global movement has changed the way people spoke about such issues. However, there is change in a way people have been interacting and discussing these issues. The way people approach social matters now, where everything from rape to racism to sexism are openly talked and spoken about on social media, it has opened up dialogues that was otherwise missing in conventional society.
Privacy & Addiction
Along with the positives that social media content has brought into our daily lives, there is also a negative effect – people are addicted to the dopamine effect that ‘likes’ provide them with. Validation of their lifestyle, travel, pictures, selfies are causing a severe misuse of many platforms. People go to great lengths to keep up with their ‘social image’ and this causes more harm than good. Spending money to increase the number of ‘followers’, to spending money to keep up with online trends are taking a dangerous turn.
Privacy is another issue that has caused many people to question social media. Facebook was recently accused of selling their users information during the election, and Instagram has also been accused of meddling with the algorithms on their page, showing their users certain posts by celebrities. These instances have left many users with a bad taste in their mouth – but not enough to get people to stop using social media altogether.
Whatever has been said about social media – the good, the bad and the ugly – no one can take away from the fact that it has brought countries, cultures and people closer. This has given everyone a voice, it has given small communities a platform to raise their issues and concerns, sexual violence against women have been brought to the forefront, and even the social media moguls and other global players have been made accountable for everything they implement. People’s voices are now louder and sharing content has never been more dynamic and versatile. If used for good, there’s no telling, how content will change the future. e clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box a settings menu will appear. your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box.