The rise of social media

Social media is everywhere. People are ever increasingly plugging into the online world in search of all kinds of information. But what really is social media and when did it creep up on us to become such a big part of our lives today?

What is social media?

Social media is part of Web 2.0. You may think Web 2.0 is a new operating system but in fact, it is the term coined for the completely new way the world uses the internet to connect, communicate and collaborate online. Social media sites are unique as they allow the user to create a profile, share interests, their location and education and social networks with the world (aka friends list). These social networks can lead to connections between people that would not normally happen.

There are many different forms of social media. Most people think of social media as sites such as Facebook. They are not wrong, but these sites only touch on the various forms of social media we have today. YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Wikipedia, Second life (virtual social worlds) and even World of Warcraft (virtual gaming worlds) are all various forms of social media.

But are we connecting to too many people who are just mere acquaintances and sharing too much with the world? Without Facebook, would you really care what that person you went to primary school with was doing now? Would you meet up with them for coffee or have them over for lunch? Would you even have their phone number? The answer is probably no. I call these individual fillers, as they fill out the number of people on your friends list.

The beginning of social networking

While Facebook is the most popular social network site today with over 1.35 billion monthly users it was not the first. In 1997, Six Degrees.com launched as the first website that combined the ability for people to create profiles, list their friends and share social connections. SixDegrees unfortunately was ahead of it time and closed in 2000 due to unpopularity.

Friendster, which launched in 2002 was the next big key social networking site that helps shaped the social media landscape we have today. Friendster was a website designed to help friends-of-friends meet in the online dating world. Friendster’s surging popularity also became its undoing when its servers and databases could not keep up with demand, making many people leave the site.

My first social media experience was with MySpace. Launched in 2003 to compete with sites like Friendster it became a site for musicians to connect with fans (which is exactly what I use it for as well as their chat forums). By continually adding features based on user demand, in 2004 Myspace became a place for teenagers to connect with the world and open up a whole new market for social media. I still have my MySpace page although I have not used it for years (since moving onto Facebook).

It was also during 2004 that Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg for use by fellow Harvard University students. It wasn’t until 2006 that Facebook was unleashed on the world when will seemed to make the big switch.

Since then we have been updating our status, sharing photos and tagging in at locations all over the world. Sharing with everyone what we are doing and where we are doing it on a variety o media. The world has become obsessed with social media and I feel it is becoming quite an addiction.

Whats next?

While others social networking sites such as Yahoo 360 and Google+ have since tried to break into the social networking phenomenon, they have had a hard time trying to pull people away from Facebook. Maybe its because we already have established connections on Facebook and starting again would be too difficult or maybe its just because we are creatures of habit but I feel these sites will never become as big and as powerful as Facebook has become.

Today, newly establishing companies must have something different to become popular in the social media world. Applications like Vine, Snapchat and Twitter took off because they had the same principles of Facebook but over different social media channels. If you have not had a look at any of these sites I recommend checking them out to see what they are about. People have established careers and become famous through the use of social media.

So tell me:

What social media sites do you use?

Do you feel we are becoming addicted to social media?

Could you go a full day without checking Facebook?

Are there people on your Facebook etc that you haven’t talked to in years and are only on there as fillers?

Please share your throughs and comments below.

Until next time,

Michelle

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One thought on “The rise of social media

  1. The social media sites that I have joined are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. In saying this I only really use Facebook and pretty much on a daily basis I will check to see what my friends and acquaintances have put on. Yes I do have people on my friends list who I am not that friendly with but it is a way to keep in contact if at some later time I might need to get in touch with them. There are people that I have unfriended as well as I have completely lost touch with them.

    I can go a day or even longer, if I am on holiday or busy, and not go on Facebook so I consider that I am not addicted to social media, but enjoy reading what friends and family are doing. My age could have something to do with this, as I was not bought up with computers. I believe that the teenagers and young people of,today who have been bought up with computers are addicted to social media so much so that it is just part of their lives and they can’t live without it.

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