Social media has made everyone seem connected to everyone else right now. If you are in Facebook and look at a stranger’s profile, for example, oftentimes you will see that you have at least one mutual friend with that person. In social networking sites, people post about everything happening in their lives, including photos, minute details, emotional status, places visited, and relationship status.
The initial purpose of social sites is that of networking, but it has evolved into something as a virtual favorite place for many people. Perhaps the reason why many individuals tend to stay a lot on these sites is the need to remove the feeling of isolation. You can’t feel alone when you’re with people who think like you do and have friends, even in a virtual environment.
Today, the purpose of social media extends beyond individuals and towards the corporate world. Obviously, firms will sell their products in places where there is market concentration. The advertising world has a new platform in the social network. In fact, people do shop a lot on the internet based on advertisements they see in social sites such as Facebook. In addition, corporations are also using social media for closer and direct interaction with customers, not just advertisements.
Social media is also an avenue for talking about politics and revolution. For example, the revolution that occurred in the Middle East was well supported because of live videos and photos posted in social media. When politicians do something unpopular with the masses, they complain in social media. When governments want to involve its citizens for developmental purposes, they use the help of social media.
Does social media really work?
Is social media really that influential? Is it an intelligent platform, where people share personal information to others on the internet? People that share photos securely in social networking sites think these are safe, but in fact, many of them appear in search engines for the public to see and use without your consent.
With the corporate world, advertisements indeed become more targeted and user engagement effectively increases because advertisers use personal information to determine what consumers really want. However, this information can also be seen by competitors. They can figure out what a company’s weaknesses are.
Social media has played a huge role in several revolutions that have taken place in the past few years. However, it is likely that the Egyptians, for example, could have still revolted against the government. Social media doesn’t always work, because sometimes the justice system of a government decides not to consider the mass opinion reflected in social sites. In addition, physical demonstrations could probably make the same, if not a more effective difference than Facebook or Twitter updates.
During Presidential elections, social networking users are also actively engaging in debates on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube as to who should be the next leader. Who should the Democrats or Republicans nominate? Everyone seems to have a say for such questions, but what happens if the government doesn’t listen and appoints someone other than who the majority thinks deserves a chance at office? Maybe we can’t do anything about it. Maybe social media has given us an avenue for protesting virtually, but as a result sapped us of the energy to “protest in the streets”.
Has widespread use of social media been of assistance to us, or has it disarmed us in more ways than none?