Disclaimer: this post is an assignment for my Advertising class. Still super legit quality content. Just not a story from a stranger.

(Image from http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/2010/11/history-of-social-media-infographic)

Social media is new, right? I mean we’ve had Facebook for what, a decade? Twitter too? That’s pretty new, considering books have endured for hundreds of years and are still going strong.

With each new platform a new way to communicate, access, and gather information is born…

Facebook

To me, Facebook’s become one of the ultimate data-mining machines. Especially since Google bought it. People volunteer all sorts of information about themselves on Facebook, from where they live, to who they like, what they believe and where they eat. This is a dream for marketers. People volunteer the information, make it publicly available, and other people gather it to sell stuff. And I’m pretty sure it works!

Twitter

I lack some faith in Twitter. It’s a great short-form media for real time updates and economic interactions. Journalists love it. Companies love it. It calls for your thoughts and opinions more than facts about yourself. And it seems safe. But when I was growing up, Twitter was the place for your not-funny one liners. I miss that sometimes. Now it’s a literal newsfeed.

I still read the paper in the morning.

Instagram

Instagram does something different than Twitter and Facebook, and I think I love it. Visual expression makes most sense to me in this multimedial age. Plus I love photography. Plus it’s different enough from Twitter and Facebook that if someone’s posting about what they’re eating or where they’re sitting, it still has potential to be visually stimulating.

What’s next?

I’m sure there’s more social media platforms in the making as you read this. I’m wondering when the current ones will get old. When will people abandon Twitter? Facebook?

Personally I think it’ll be sooner than later. From what I can tell, people in my circles recognize these as sales tools — more ammunition in the belt of the “man”. And in my circles, the “man” is not always welcome. We’ve started to shun each other for being on our phones in mid-conversation. We’ve started to run away from the device glued to our hands when we want to have fun, relax, or enjoy some genuine human experience.

Will social media push people back to that old way of socializing? Or am I just an outsider with a bunch of weirdo friends?

As an aside: I have a firm understanding that language and information is how our brains shape reality. So having this constantly shifting landscape of ways to communicate and access information may be constantly shifting how our brains use words and knowledge to build our perception of reality… That’s the real interesting stuff. Will people move towards traditional methods for stability? Or will we embrace the amorphous blob of change?

I recommend Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” on the neat neurological effects of technology on the brain.

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