Indulge me in a little backdrop dating back to the 80s. I was a seafarer, a Third Mate at those times. Captain Smith, our skipper was Brit who believed in fair play.
One voyage, after nearly a 2-month sail from Japan to Richards Bay in South Africa, we docked, ready to take on a loud of coal. The agent was waiting on the pier so that once we were moored, we could start loading. Well, he boarded eventually.
Captain Smith, after the usual exchanges, politely enquires, “Mr. Agent, but where is the crew mail packet?”
“Forgot to pick it, Captain, you will get it tomorrow.”
Captain Smith coolly tells the agent that we will only start loading after you go back to Joburg and fetch the mail. My crew will not be denied.
What ensued is a different story. The point here is that communication then was a personal thing.
Enter, social media lifestyle. A potentially terrific tool. Is it also terrifying?
In just a decade, social media has beaten all other media, be it as an informal exchange, a meeting place, commerce, or whatever you can think of.
Billions of us are now using this fabulous online media through various platforms, marketing pros included.
It all started with a hand-typed message, containing dots and dashes on May 24, 1844, where Samuel Morse said in a prophetic statement to Washington, “What hath God wrought?”
Seer or doomsayer?
In March 2006, Jack Dorsey, a high-school dropout, came up with another stunning idea. Twitter was born. It was sensational, conceived as it were with tidbits and bird chirps.
The game-changer was Facebook. Launched in 2003, it was first called Facesmash, The objective was pretty simple- it was designed as an interface for students to match looks for a suitable date.
Mark Zuckerburg started early. His father spotted the talent in the lad. Edward, the father, taught him BASIC. Mark was up and running. He was fast. Edward had to hire a tutor, David Newman, a software developer, who promptly called young Mark, at all of 11 years, a prodigy.
There are stunning exploits of this young man, for instance, ZuckNet.
The use of social media to lift-off a start-up is undeniable.
There is no Good, Bad, and Ugly. It is purely a choice.
In the days of the telegram, everybody knew what GM (Good Morning) meant. The costing was based on the characters used.
Now we have OMG, LOL, and what have you. Speed typing contests on the phone and all.
I am all in for brevity. But is that all?
With social media you get a splendid interface for social interactions between literally infinite numbers of people. There are several benefits, including:
The primary image-based platforms this review examines Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
I did a small random poll. This is what Ms. J has to say. I found her reply bang on.
I begin at the very beginning of life before social media. Life when there was a family with a well-structured and disciplined life. A time of morning school and colleges, 9 to 5 office hours in a 5 days full and sixth day as half with a full Sunday as the day of the Sabbath (the total shutdown scenario).
Once a year holiday to the hills or the sea with the full family, pets included, mostly on the train with night reservations and summer vacations to the family home was what painted a typical life before the social media. Few regulated friends equally few and controlled admirers for the eligible when family substituted for filial and social bonds and entertainment too.
But then life changed and entered a new concept into the lives of the millions: Social Media. And with it entered a new age of virtual reality; of people, opinions polls celebrity fan following love-hate propaganda and relationships with a flavor of its own.
No man who is internet educated has ever since been oblivious of its charm and has been touched in more ways than one. I for one cannot conceive of my life without it. Like many my waking up eyes seek the familiar world of Social Media to welcome me to the day. Be it for the early morning quotes news political viewpoint I surrender myself to the virtual world of it.
It is only in hindsight and with great introspection that I have come to realize how my thoughts, feelings, and emotions are generated by the Social media, as well as that of the general public thought opinion and viewpoint.
What I thought to be my unique experience and realization was already doctrine in a special way even before it was made available to Social Media for percolating into the million minds hooked to it.
On a less scary level, it has proved to be a very friendly tool personally, socially, and professionally too. Many a business venture has germinated here based on ideas that too germinated in the lap of this virtual reality.
With the changing social times, the social demography has undergone many changes and families have become nuclear; job and work sectors have changed radically; the working hours have stretched from 5 and a half-day to 24×7.
A relationship is the other most affected part of this changing social structure that has adopted a new persona that finds its reflection in this virtual world of Social Media.
Rather friendless, extremely busy and stressed breed of this new generation finds it’s much-needed solace in Social Media which can be therefore a mighty friend to someone just like him or me.
And to adapt to this new world the inevitable happens when we, he and I change. We become more social, more flamboyant, and exhibitionist. We start sharing with one another what we would never have before and could ever think shareable.
From the food on the table to the makeup in the toilet, the cuddly couple giving the perfect kiss, from the vantage point of the hill to driving pillion we are busy clicking photos for posting on Social Media.
It doesn’t end there. We are anxious about the response it fetches from our friends and family, followers, haters and stalkers. The memories we once cherished on monochrome to be pasted with love with a non-drying glue is now but a thing of impersonal likes wows anger, sadness, or love emojis.
There undoubtedly has emerged a different code of conduct a way of responding a particular way of navigating successfully in social media. The veritable sign being the increase in popularity with increasing friend requests to see the rising number of followers.
Playing by the rules has never been of more importance than now when a candid yet relevant comment can make you a social outcast in this virtual social circle. And likewise can also pummel you to the peak of social success.
As an avid user myself I have learned the ways of being and flourishing here making friends in business associates groups and have become an avid reader and a happy participant in many social circles albeit virtually. And I can see no means of escaping this very fulfilling world of my friends and groups, my ardent followers and supporters, and certainly wish no longer to.
We cannot sit in judgment here. There are no pros and cons here.
An interesting observation. Socio-political events, adventure sports, travel, e-commerce, and a whale lot of others. Let’s take a peek at other people’s observations.
Is social media real? Questioned Essena O’Neill, a 19-year-old Australian woman? She holds that it is a form of low self-esteem and an attempt at fake self-promotion.
Some studies have reflected links between dissatisfaction with one’s body and anorexia with a focus on fashion mags or TV shows commonly on women These studies have extensively focused on media forms that highlight such exposure and to explain the link between visually sighting images of slim body structures.
Becker and colleagues (2011) conducted a study which by suggestion claims that media can even be indirect in their suggestions. I have combed through many studies whether mass media endorsement, direct or indirect, (i.e., TV, CD players, videos, internet access, MP3 players, smartphones) had any association with eating patterns in Fijian teenage girls. Despite the limitations of this work, such as the broad generalization, the study makes a strong case in this picture, social networks do play a pivotal role in the connection between eating pathology and media.
However, these studies need to be taken with a bit of salt as many other researchers found little link between image body consolation. Holmstrom (2004) conducted an analysis of the literature currently focused on general exposure to media and the pathological impacts.
Kim and Chong, did another super analysis on this. Social grooming has taken itself to obsessive proportions, they surmise. Visiting, liking, and commenting on body image concerns is mighty depressive.
Case studies are just a part of it all. The point here is pretty simple. Is a social media lifestyle worth it?
Like I hinted before, this is not a jury we are addressing.
The tremendous popularity of social media among youth and its influential force and their behavior. This is a vulnerable age-group. Who bells the cat here?
So how is social media changing our lives?
Let's get real. On-line classes, on-line professional conduct?
Sometimes it appears Morse was not off-target, “What Hath God Wrought.”
Misinformation is a huge malady in these times. Question; Is social media a responsible entity? The use of Photoshop and other software to enhance selfies, ads, and media, in general, is an unfair practice. But the customer is always right.
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