We, the human species, shall always be grateful to the geeks for coming up with the most effective time killing machine in the form of Social Media (SM) or social networking sites. No sooner we realize we can't amuse ourselves any further than we log onto these sites. The ones who have no idea what SM is all about are either living under the rock or somewhere deep inside their caves.
About a decade ago, when Internet became a part of our vocabulary, people started flocking to cyber cafés. For the time being, it was the “in” stuff. As the result, almost everyone familiar with Internet had a Yahoo! account so as to enable themselves to enter the virtual chat room. Chatting was THE thing to do. Eventually, people grew bored of it and moved on to the next phase called Orkut which was a huge success by itself but not anymore. SM is like nature. It has to keep changing, upgrading and reinventing itself to survive amongst us.
So netizens began to look for other alternatives and found one in MySpace and Facebook (FB). As fate (read: common sense) would have it, MySpace fizzled out making Facebook the sole contender in the world of SM. This carried on for a while before Twitter entered the scene and caught people’s attention like never before. As of now, it is trying to catch up with FB but has a long way to go. Of course, you can’t overlook Skype as it is the undisputed champ of video chatting on web. And to add to the competition, Google+ is the latest entrant into the arena and if stats are to be believed, it’s doing quite well for a newbie.
Now what is it that compels people to have an active virtual life even if they don’t have a real one? Well, to be very simplistic, the answer lies in the question itself – because it is virtual, any breathing person can have it. You are just clicks away from signing up, be it FB or Twitter. You do it for yourself and that remains the bottom-line. Surprisingly, once you are in, you want to stay in touch even with those strangers whom you start referring to as friends. People appear more loyal to their virtual friends than their real ones. Perhaps friends may come and go but FB is here forever. At least that’s how it seems like from a distance.
Facebook currently has more than 750 million users which means if it were a country, it’d been the third most populous after China and India. The reason why it’s so popular has to do with the kind of connectivity one enjoys while online. Updating your status and posting recent pics is a part of daily exercise for most Facebookers. It’d be fair to say that babies nowadays enter FB even before they get a name. This is all thanks to overenthusiastic parents who just can’t help sharing their newborns’ pics with the rest of the world!
We always wished to yell silently. And then they created Twitter. It’d be safe to say that, like most SM sites, Twitter is also where everyone stalks everyone. In short, Twitter is longer than 140 characters. Despite its verbal limitations, it remains a very efficient tool in the spread of messages/ideas/rubbish/ rumours. In fact, we seem to get more news on Twitter than there is news on this planet. Although Twitter is predominantly about empty sentences filled with emptier intentions, the truth remains that it is where most of the FB status messages come from. Yup.
There are no hard and fast rules in SM so you can type whatever you want to say as no one's paying attention anyway. Well, metaphorically speaking. Too much time spent on these sites will wear you out as you’ll be draining yourself mentally. But if you are smart enough to manage time, then it’s a joyride for you all. Net addiction is another usual side-effect which people usually overlook for the sake of entertainment.
There are 3 types of people on SM - those who never want to leave; those who are always here; and the rest. For some, the amount of time they waste on SM is negligible compared to what they waste on doing absolutely nothing. The online duration varies from person to person.
The kind of conversation you’ll often read on SM: “What do you do during weekdays?" "Hate my life on Twitter." "And weekends?" "Love my life on Twitter."
However, a lot of them are natural talents when it comes to wasting a weekend on SM, if need be. After all, SM makes you feel busier than you actually are.
The kind of conversation you’ll NEVER read on SM: "Am I disturbing you?" "Yes, you are. Can’t you see? I'm bloody saving the planet here!"
According to estimates, nearly 2 billion people have access to Internet which means there are more than 4 to 5 billion people still offline. This is where SM chips in and tries to score. Recently, Facebook joined forces with Skype thus facilitating video chatting to FB users. Such tie-ups indicate the emerging importance of SM in people’s everyday life. Google+ is just an example of how new players will enter the market in future and vie for more members than their competitors and thus grow their footprint. And yes, blogging too is an interesting aspect which connects people’s thoughts with one another. Without any exaggeration, Social Media is the way of the future. It’s here to stay. Like it or not. That’s how it is.