Through our ever evolving social media platform, technology has significantly changed the way we humans interact. This cataclysmic change was best described with four words: “What are you doing?”
Such a simple question and yet you could get answers that are so diverse it ranges from the most trivial, thoughtful, to informative. The end of 2010 saw approximately two billion individuals with web access. Today there are more than 750 million Facebook users; 2 billion video views per day on Youtube; and 1 billion tweets per week on Twitter. Can you believe, there are more tweets than there are people!
What does the popularity of social media reveal about the human psyche? How does it reveal an evolution of human beings?
First, contrary to popular belief, we do not go on facebook to “network” rather we go on facebook to “broadcast our lives” to people who are not in our inner circle of friends. This broadcast goes a long way in developing, not mere friendship, but information and news about what is happening in the world today. Think about it, you go through your feed to not just comment on people’s walls but to see what is happening? John is eating at all you can eat steak special, Jane is at the 50% off sale , Sam is stuck in traffic because of construction. All these little tid bits feed us information about what is happening in the world, so now we know to hit up that steak place this weekend, to go to that sale, and to take an alternative route home after work to escape the traffic line. Our addiction to facebook and twitter does not stem from our need to make friends, but rather our need to expand our information network. Afterall, the more people we add to our facebook the wider the information network we receive. As human beings we recognize the importance of not just “making friends” but what sort of information that “friend” can give you. For example, I am facebook friends with a promoter for a club. In no way, are we close or have hung out. However, through her status updates I get the low down on what sort of parties are happening in the city and a contact through which I can get access to those events. Very valuable indeed!!
Secondly, in 2009, Twitter dropped their “what are you doing” and started asking “what is happening.” This small yet significant change further reflects how individuals are going beyond the concept of “personal updates” and evolved into an “information network” that shares everything from news worthy information, fashion, entertainment, restaurants, nearby events, etc. Gone are the days of personal updates, now people want to share news, events, and stories. Think of it as going beyond the gossip to filtering information that is actually useful to you.
Lastly, having a large network and connecting with people play a large impact in the information we receive around the city that could help us make decisions about what we plan or new information tidbits we would pick up during the week that could influence our decision and conversations. Previously, the information we received came from a few close friends and the 6’oclock news. Now, social media has become an explosive trend to gather information from all sources and allows you to likewise share the news you hear twice as fast, as it is happening. Today, we do not get information after it happens, we get it AS IT IS HAPPENING. When a severe earthquake occurred in India, a local got on twitter and tweets what is happening. He opens up a google document for people to share information about bodies found and how to get needed supplies. Within minutes thousands of people respond and that one tweet and one google document becomes the most important survival tool to help victims of the earthquake tragedy. How amazing.
Nowadays, all major news networks, CNN, BBC, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc. have added new buttons to their articles by giving you the opportunity to “share” on facebook or twitter. We have become, not a “networking culture” but an “information culture” greedy for new news, trends, and popularity for sharing new information first.
Evolving social media reflects a culture that thrives on the concept of “What Are You Doing?” The four words that have transformed the way we share. AND now to “What is happening?” The three words that have changed the way information is dispersed in the world. Now, within seconds, we know when the first rock was thrown in a protest in Syria, we know when Justin Bieber cut his hair, and we can follow every second that passes of the Pacquiao’s fights without without buying HBO pay-per-view and just reading people’s tweets. Shared and reshared, we spread human interest and opinions, which in turn changes what we know, how we talk, what we become interested in, and consequently who we build relationships with.
So, go forth and post, tweet, facebook, share, like, comment, and poke and perpetuate the addiction of social media and hunger for information.