Communication is an integral part of human activity that separate us from other species. It gave us the power to dominate and control our environment.
Our ability to develop both sign, written and spoken language to deal with our in satiable communal communication needs to share and disseminate information in order to take a leap forward and to protect mankind in the face of various threats in the environment that our existence as species has been phenomenal.
As the society continue to grow and expand, the need to alter our primordial communication methods, processes and infrastructure became more compelling.
More so as the society became more heterogeneous people now became more individualistic, they live far apart from one another and the need to expand and develop our communications resource becomes even more necessary in order to reach out and connect.
The development of Nation States, Commerce, and Trade compelled the society to develop more pragmatic means and method of communication to reach out instantaneously and effectively.
Man in every epoch has developed a dominant communication infrastructure that propel its well being to the next stage.
From the town criers, gongs, smoke and the paintings on the stones, man has gone a long way in trying to modernize his communication infrastructure to reduce the waiting time for information dissemination and delivery.
In every epoch, changes occur in the intervening period depending on the level of sophistication of the society at any given time.
The transition from one dominant technology to another was guided by variety of reasons. Information shared between tribal groups is limited in application and usage between different tribes and it can not be applied outside ones community.
Drums and smoke were used by the primitive society, but they have their limitations as both methods can attract un wanted attentions from enemy tribes and predatory animals.
Gutenberg revolutionized the way books were made with the device he developed that utilize movable type using blocks with pre printed text. The method with the use of paper, ink and a printing press achieved the mass production of books there by creating larger reading groups as against the few religious manuscripts exclusively meant for the monastery, the clergy and the rich.
Samuel F.B. Morse was attributed with the development of Telegraphy in America in 1837 even though by 1747 William Watson had previously sent messages via telegraphy.
Telephone was attributed to the works of Alexander Bell whose dream work was based on the concept that sound vibrations could be transmitted through the air and received at the same pitch in another room. Bell archived this dream and thus the birth of telephone for human communications.
Radio entered the scene in the early 1990. It started as a short-wave communication medium used during WW1 and developed in to one of the versatile communication technology after the war.
The development of photography added another dimension to human communication while other methods focused more on conveying one message, photograph has the ability to depict man himself and interpret events in many ways by deferent observers.
Television came on to scene in 1939 and since then it has became a dominant technology in human communication. This is because of its ability in creating reality and make believe.
Further more all emerging technologies relied on the television screen to translate electronic signal to reality. The global society became obsessed with television and relied on it for their quest for entertainment and news and self esteem.
Another technology that changed the face of human communication is the Cell Phone. It came into being through
the pioneering works of Michael Faraday in 1843 when he conducted a research that if space could conduct electricity. The first portable hand set was however credited to Dr. Martin Cooper.
The most revolutionary technology of our era is perhaps the emergence of the Internet. Even though the internet was originally invented for the Military in 1967. It gained further application in all sectors because of its ability to incorporate components of other communication technologies that preceded its debut. Today internet is available every where and to every one.
The 21st century, is the age of globalization, Internet and the social media.
What is therefore the social media? The social media consist of computer mediated tools that people use to create, share or exchange information, ideas, pictures, video promptly with ease.
It is defined as a “ group of internet based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that it allow the creation and exchange of user generated content” (Kaplan & Hainlein, 2010).
Social presence theorist (Short, Williams & Christie, defined social media as audial, visual and physical contact between two related and communicated actors through which they can mutually influence and impact.
And it is related to mobile and web based technologies that individuals and communities use to share, co-create, discuss modify user generated content.
They introduce common, substantial and widespread changes to communication between groups of organization as well as organizations and individuals (Kietzamann & Hermkens, 2011). No actor in the communication process can now have absolute monopoly to access, content of mass mediated messages. Information is no longer a one way traffic from one to many but from one to one.
The social media has open up the way we communicate no single actor can now control the information flow. It is no longer vertical, from top to bottom. The source, sender, encoder and receiver are diverse and heterogeneous. Age is no longer an encumbrance as to who receive, disseminate, create or start the process of communication.
The threat to hegemonic dominant control by the owners of the main stream media are being challenged on daily basis. The gap keep widening to the extent it is postulated that the traditional media will loose it dominance by 25% in the next decade.
The State control over access and content of what goes in and out of the mass media waned as actors in the communication processes are no encumbered seriously by draconian state legislations that hither to hinder information flows.
Information and communication technology has changed rapidly over the past 20 years with a key development being the emergence of social media.
The development of mobile technology has played an important role in shaping the impact of social media.
Across the globe, mobile devices dominate in terms of total minutes spent online. This puts the means to connect anywhere, at any time on any device in everyone’s hands.
A fascinating study by New York Times Consumer Insight Group revealed the motivations that participants cited for sharing information on social media.
1. desire to reveal valuable and entertaining content to others;
2. to define themselves;
3. to grow and nourish relationships;
4. to get the word out about brands and
5. to causes they like or support.
These factors have caused social networks to evolve from being a handy means for keeping in touch with friends and family to being used in ways that have a real impact on society.
The impacts it makes on the society could be positive or negative depending on how it is used and how one looks at it .
Social media is being used in ways that shape politics, business, world culture, education, careers, innovation, and more.
We have heard how the social media has destroyed and promoted marriages, caused death, built political alliances, assisted in toppling governments and electing Presidents.
And how it has become a medium for reaching to the electorates and sending policy statements by political leaders.
A new study from Pew Research claims that 62 percent of people get their news from social media, with 18 percent doing so very often.
In comparison to other media, social media’s influence in political campaigns has increased tremendously. Social networks play an increasingly important role in electoral politics.
Firstly, in the ultimately unsuccessful candidacy of Howard Dean in 2003, and then in the election of the first African-American president in 2008.
The New York Times reports that “The election of Donald J. Trump is perhaps the starkest illustration yet that across the planet, social networks are helping to fundamentally rewire human society.” Because social media allows people to communicate with one another more freely, they are helping to create surprisingly influential social organizations among once-marginalized groups.
Almost a quarter of the world’s population is now on Facebook. In the USA nearly 80% of all internet users are on this platform. Because social networks feed off interactions among people, they become more powerful as they grow.
Thanks to the internet, each person with marginal views can see that he’s not alone. And when these people find one another via social media, they can do things — create memes, publications and entire online worlds that bolster their worldview, and then break into the mainstream.
Without social media, social, ethical, environmental and political ills would have minimal visibility. Increased visibility of issues has shifted the balance of power from the hands of a few to the masses.
The rise of social media means it’s unusual to find an organization that does not reach its customers and prospects through one social media platform or another. Companies see the importance of using social media to connect with customers and build revenue.
Businesses have realized they can use social media to generate insights, stimulate demand, and create targeted product offerings. This is important in traditional brick-and-motor businesses, and, obviously, in the world
Social media has been blamed for promoting social ills such as Cyberbullying, teenagers have a need to fit in, to be popular and to outdo others.
This process was challenging long before the advent of social media. Add Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and WeChat into the mix and you suddenly have teenagers being subjected feeling pressure to grow up too fast in an online world.
Michael Hamm, a researcher from the University of Alberta conducted a study that showed the effects of social media on bullying. 23% of teens report being targeted and 15 percent said they’d bullied someone on social media.
Teenagers can misuse social media platforms to spread rumors, share videos aimed at destroying reputations and to blackmail others.
Stalking, identity theft, personal attacks, and misuse of information are some of the threats faced by the users of social media. Most of the time, the users themselves are to blame as they end up sharing content that should not be in the public eye. The confusion arises from a lack of understanding of how the private and public elements of an online profile actually work.
Social networks help the businesses in a variety of ways. Traditional marketing mediums such as the radio, TV commercials and print ads are becoming completely obsolete. However, with social media the businesses can connect with their targeted customers for free, the only cost is energy and time. Through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social site you can lower your marketing cost to a significant level.
The increasing popularity of social sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, social networks has gained attention as the most viable communication choice for the bloggers, article writers and content creators.
These social networking sites have opened the opportunity for all the writers and bloggers to connect with their tech savvy clients to share your expertise and articles. Your audience will further share your articles, blog or expertise in their social circle which further enhance your networks of the followers.
Social networks have removed all the communication and interaction barriers, and now one can communicate his/her perception and thoughts over a variety of topics. Students and experts are able to share and communicate with like-minded people and can ask for the input and opinion on a particular topic.
Another positive impact of social networking sites is to unite people on a huge platform for the achievement of some specific objective. This is very important to bring the positive change in society.
Other negative effects of the social media or network is it leads to addiction. Spending countless hours on the social sites can divert the focus and attention from a particular task. It lowers the motivational level of the people, especially of the teenagers and students. They mainly rely on technology and the internet instead of learning the practical knowledge and expertise of the everyday life.
Kids can be greatly affected by these social networking sites if they are allowed to use them. The reason is that sometimes people share photos on social media that contains violence and sex, which can damage the behaviour of kids and teenagers. It put the negative impact on overall society as these kids and teenagers involve themselves in crime related activities.
Another downside of the social media is that the user shares too much information which may pose threats to them. Even with the tight security settings your personal information may leak on the social sites.
The state, big business and the traditional or main stream media have recognised early the threat by the social media to their dominant control over the allocation of frequencies and channels.
What they have not recognised early were the impact of the phenomenon called social media. They were caught hands down in terms of legislations that would curtail the awesome power the social media has created for itself.
The state, big business and the main stream media in the face of freedom of expression and democratization of information and information flow are hesitant in subjecting the social media to state control because they are afraid of the repercussions that it may generate from the users and owners of the channels who have the years amassed awesome information on almost everybody over the years.
The owners of the social media channels have in themselves also become big businesses with massive resources and power to control the minds of people
There are now over 3 billion people logging onto social media accounts around the world, meaning that almost half of the world’s population spends at least part of their day updating their status or story.
A new report compiled by “Hoot suite and We Are Social” published by The Next Web found that there are 3.028 billion active social media users around the world. That’s a mind-boggling number, especially when you consider that the Earth’s population is estimated to be 7.524 billion people.
That means about 40 percent of the global population is using social media, and only a small portion of the estimated 3.819 billion people with internet access around the world don’t have at least one social profile. Mobile users make up a large chunk of the base, with Facebook being unsurprisingly, the king of the social media platforms, with an estimated 2.047 billion monthly active users (MAU), while other vehicles such as WhatsApp and Messenger are over the billion MAU mark as well in the third and fourth position, respectively. Instagram followed closely behind with roughly 700 million MAU.
So the next time you find yourself wasting your time on Facebook or Twitter, don’t feel bad you’re not alone. Most of the world’s population is spending their spare moments scrolling through their news.
Now imagine this world without the social media channels, how do you deal with the over 3billion people whose number keeps increasing by the day?
Free, uncontrolled platform to speak your mind is the perfect way to filter ideas in a truly objective environment. Social Media is arguably the second coming of free press and should not be regulated or controlled.
People over the internet as a whole are intelligent enough to demand proof or links to any claims made and curate ideas by popularity without meddling of any powerful entity.
To shut down or meddle with visibility of ideas in a free and interdependent society will anaguoles killing the freedom to hold opinion and freely express them.
Shutting down social media is a threat to liberal democracy and the attempted control over opinions is the cause that created the level of polarisation we are witnessing today in the western world.
Diversity of opinion reminds us why bad ideas are just that and sharpens our minds against arguments made against liberal democracy.
Social media provides a platform for a larger section of people. They need not remain hostage to the corporate controlled media and can air their views freely and fearlessly. The society is tired of state censorship. We are sophiscated, civilized, educated to discern and filter messages
The conclusion that can be drawn from this, is that no matter how much the States Actors, the Big Business and Main Stream media feels about the negative effects and presence of the Social media it has come to stay as a dominant source of information, just like its predecessors.
We can only regulate some aspects of its applications but we can not wish it away.
Long live the freedom of expression and free press!