In barely a decade, social media has transformed our world, the way we communicate, and our relationships in quite remarkable ways. It still changes and evolves unceasingly.
Stories are the way that we process information and make sense of the world. This has gone unchanged for centuries.
What is happening now is that the tools to create stories are exploding. Today people have the expectation to be much more involved and to be part of the story, to create their stories and to co-author. To engage and get engaged. We left the era, where information was broadcast from one-to-many. We live now in a culture of connectivity. Borders do not exist in „Social-Mediastan“. The „Netizens“ (from „The Culture of Connectivity“, José van Dijck) communicate via Skype, Whats App, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Vlogs, Youtube… all around the world, 24/7. We do no longer consume, we have become prosumers with far more influence than ever before.
„it represents the emergence of a completely new information ecosystem that will have more profound impact on civilisation than did the printing press“ (Al Gore – Former US Vice President)
For some social media is a waste of time, for others it is the first time they truly experience freedom in access to knowledge and sometimes freedom of speech. Think about the Iranian presidential election protests in 2009, or the Arab Spring…On the one hand Social media played a significant role because it facilitated communication and interaction among participants of political protests and contributed to political and social mobilization.
Authorities and governments fear this evolution and try to control the Internet with censorship. But informations always find their way through.
„What’s astonishing is that authority even powerful nation states seem unable to get to grips to the web…the webs linked informations piped through an older physical system. The Internet that operates beyond the jurisdiction of anyones country and works against central control“ (source: Dr. Aleks Krotoski for BBC documentary „The Virtual Revolution“)
On the other hand, did social media actually lead to a social change? Or is it just a catalyst? We all use social media, even „autocratic governments themselves use social media for their purposes, for example, to monitor citizens. Terrorist groups are also increasingly making use of social media, using the medium to recruit new followers or spread propaganda.
In his article “Small Change. Why the revolution will not be tweeted,” Malcolm Gladwell outlines two main reasons why social media cannot be considered as a factor of real social change. First, social media leads to low-risk activism based on weak ties among participants, meaning that users can create the feeling of political action while not actually achieving anything. For example, in Syria, the “days of anger” announced on Facebook didn’t actually cause large protests, even though they occurred just after violent clashes with the police resulting in the mass arrests of teenagers. Second, Gladwell argued that the decision-making process achieved through consensus is complicated by social media, which has no inherent hierarchy.“ (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media_and_the_Arab_Spring)
Social Media is involved in politics, in marketing campaigns, in social movements and in our everyday life. The price we pay for free access to knowledge, to create an environment for convening and supporting groups, to move crowds and to interact on social media is high. We pay with our personal data. WE ARE THE PRODUCT. Our personal stories, stories we liked or shared… What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. FOR EVER.
But social media seems to be worth more than our personal data. Although we know what happens to our data, we post along. And the trend of new users is ascending. Almost 1 million people used social media channels for the first time last year – that’s 11 new users per second (source: https://wearesocial.com/de/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018). On http://www.internetlivestats.com you can watch internet live statistics, to see how many users are online, how many emails where sent per day and how many posts per network was sent out in real time.
So what is our personal data worth?
„Clinton and his colleagues at Loup Ventures had recently been noodling a potential business opportunity for the emerging blockchain technology, best known now for being the foundation of virtual currencies. Maybe consumers could use something like that to lock up their personal-use histories on technologies like Facebook’s and Google’s. Instead of giving their data away to these companies, they could sell it.“ (source: http://www.afr.com/technology/social-media/facebook/how-much-is-your-personal-data-really-worth-20180413-h0yplv)
Will this be the evolution? Do we need more control?
I will continue to post, because i feel that i have a little more impact, than i had before… but i am much more careful with what i post. What about you?
How did social media change your life (private, business)? For the better and worse.
How do you think, can we use social media for social change?
Leave a comment, or post a tweet with the Hashtag #socialmedia4change on Twitter.