The majority of us probably use social media everyday. We may use it for communicating with our friends, helping progress our career, or interacting with our favourite brands and causes. With 1.23 billion people now on Facebook, more of us than ever are indulging the need for contact, communication and sharing our lives and opinions. The need for us to stay connected with what’s going in the wider world is also a massive contributing factor in the pre-eminence of social media. But how has this affected the modern world and modern society? We’ve decided to investigate the main ways that social media has influenced the world around us.
The spread of high-speed broadband has, of course, had a big effect on the growth in social media usage, making it easier for us all to login, upload and share all those important (and not so important) moments in our lives. Innovations such as fibre optic broadband from Virgin Media have also had a big impact on the domination of sites like Facebook and Twitter. So how has social media influenced society to date?
It mobilises people and acts as a support network
From the incredible scenes of the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2012, to global shows of support in times of crisis, such as the #OneBoston hashtag after the Boston bombing, social media can unite and mobilise like few other mediums. Across the Arab world, social media was used effectively to organise, communicate, and raise awareness of the sweeping revolutionary causes, in spite of constant censorship, while Barack Obama’s campaign team famously used social media to create a wave of support which led him to the White House. In hard times, social media can help us feel a little closer to help. During Superstorm Sandy, people didn’t have power, but they did have some Wi-Fi signal. Many used Facebook to reassure friends or family that they were safe.
It can have major political influence
Social media can still have a political influence even when it’s not involved in overthrowing dictatorships. It can give a true voice to people in minorities, and social platforms have helped spread the word about same-sex marriage in the United States. Individuals and brands have displayed red equality symbols as the Supreme Court has heard same-sex marriage cases. The Supreme Court is in the process of overturning laws banning same-sex marriages, and justices are very aware of the public support because of social media.
It’s a great way to connect across vast distances
Email and Skype have revolutionised the way that we keep in contact with friends and relatives who live far away, but social media has complemented this sea change. You can reconnect with those who’ve moved away or those you met on your travels. The pleasure of getting a glimpse of someone’s life and feeling instantly connected with them is not to be underestimated. You may not have physically been at the birthday party or anniversary, but you’ve checked in, liked and shared in the moment nonetheless.
Social media has changed the world in many ways, mostly for the better, despite the constant stories to the contrary. How has it changed your life? Leave any comments you have below.