In the 21th century, the emergence of internet could be one of the greatest inventions in the history of human civilisation. And social media could be a great innovation relating to the rapid developments of internet and digital technologies. The purpose of this essay is to make a critical discussion on social media, exploring it background, development history and influences. There are three main parts involved in the main body. First part is the introduction of origin and development history of social media. The second part is the question discussion of ‘Who benefits from social media’s transformative effects and who do not?’. And in the third part, I would focus on the question of ‘How has the development of social media affected my study and work, and what problems does it present to you?’.
The background of social media
Social media refers to new and different forms of online communication, people could create network, communities and collectives to share information, ideas, messages, video and other content on it (Terrell, 2015). And the social media is the application created by Web 2.0, Web 2.0 is a set of next-generation internet technologies. The Web 2.0 provides the fundamental of social media (Christian, 2017). In 1990s, with the widely popularisation of personal computer, the stage for emergence of social media was set up. The emergence of blogging and BBS (bulletin board system) is the sign of early age of social media. BBS provide initial platforms for people to communicate and interact with others online. And blog provide a platform for people to post own contends and exchange ideas with others. The website ‘Six Degree’ tends to be the first social media website, it based on the theory of ‘six degrees of separation’, which states that everybody in the world would connect to anybody with six degree of separation (Six Degrees, n.d.).
Image: Six Degrees website
With the development of IT and digital skills, the social medias have more websites and it could be widely accepted by the public. There are millions of social media users in the world. Many social media sites had created great successes in the world, and several popular social media sites are familiar with everyone of us, like
And according to the statistics of Statista (Clement, 2019), every site in the list has enormous visiting flows in 2019, the most popular mobile social networking apps in US is the Facebook, the second is Instagram and the third is Facebook Messenger.
Image: Most popular mobile social networking apps in the United States as of June 2019, by monthly users (in millions), from Statista
Due to the enormous visiting flow of social media sites and apps, social media has been a major channel to view news and information and exchange insights and comments. Many famous companies created their accounts on social media sites to promote their brands and many official organisations also selected to create social media accounts to publish news, like Tourism Australia.
Image: Tourism Australia’s official account on Twitter
Who benefits from social media’s transformative effects and who do not?
Considering the operation model, features, functions and other factors, the transformation of social media brought benefits to several groups in the society.
- Common internet users
Before the emergence of social media sites, when people want to implement any online activities, the needed more processes. For example, when people wanted to chat with somebody online, they needed to launch their instant message software or login in online communities. When people want to post somethings new about self, they should post on blogs. When they wanted know some information news, they had to go to some news websites. And everyone’s online experience tended to be a little isolated. While the social media changed all this thoroughly. Social media provides a platform for people to communicate and interact with others, and it is also a good channel for information exchanging and spreading. Social media sites tend to be a comprehensive platform where people could implement various of online activities.
- Commercial organisations
The development of social media provides great opportunities to commercial organisations. Due to the larger group of social media users, commercial organisations could develop plenty of potential customers for their businesses. And the social media is also a good approach for them to enhance the relationships with customers and improve customers’ experience. Based on the accounts which commercial organisations created on social media sites, they could build online customers communities to focus on changes of the current market. Besides, the social media sites are open and equal, one company could view other competitors’ social media marketing activities and improve own weaknesses and disadvantages.
- IT talents
Based on the trend of social media sites and social media marketing, there are more and more IT companies and other common companies need more IT talents, like programmer, data analysts, internet operator internet designers and other talents with special skills. Talents have become the critical factor for business competition. Therefore, the needs of qualified IT talents are much stronger than before, the remunerations and benefits of IT talents would be much better. IT talents could have better developing opportunities.
Who do not benefit from the social media development?
- Traditional medias
For those traditional medias which did not plan to develop online channels, the development of social media brought a great negative influence to them. Due to the widely spreading of social media, new medias could attract many audiences. And people used to view information from social medias, the sales volume would be affected. And traditional medias’ future development would be affected either.
- Traditional merchants
For those traditional merchants who did not plan to develop online market or implement social media marketing. The rapid developing social media did not bring any benefits to them, instead social media brought much benefits to their competitors. Those merchants who adopted social medias could face broader market and receive more developing opportunities. This is unbeneficial to traditional merchants, they would face more barriers in sales and marketing (Sam & Larissa, 2013).
How has the development of social media affected my study and work, and what problems does it present to you?
To be honest, social media has great influences to my study, work and life. In my study career, social media applications provide me convenient high effective communication tools. If I have any problems of my study, I could contact with my classmates on social media apps and receive instant responses. In some teamwork programs, social media could provide proper platforms for communicating and interacting. And social media is a major source I could search useful research materials and learn from others. And in my leisure time, I could chat with my friends or watch videos on social media sites. Facebook, Ins, Weibo and WeChat are several common social media apps which I usually use in my life.
While social media also brought some troubles to me. As everybody knows, the social medias are open and interactive platforms, everyone could participate and every user has equal rights. There would be some harassments issues, like junk mails and harassment messages. These harassments are very annoying, sometimes they prevent me from viewing useful information from social medias. Besides, information security is a major problem of social media. In the process of creating our online profiles on social media, we always have to provide much personal information to those sites. While some criminals tried to steal others’ social media accounts to implement frauds or steal personal information to implement other criminal cases. Based on the social media safety tips gave by Forbes (Suciu 2019), every user should not over share and focus on connections.
The emergence and development of social media had drove throughout changes in our life. It changed our communication approaches, shopping approaches, major information sources, models of study and works and it enhance our entertainments. Every common internet user, commercial organisation and IT talents benefits from its development. On contrary, those traditional medias and merchants could not benefit from social media development, they even have to face the difficulties brought by social media. And social media affected my study, work and life either. I received much conveniences from it while social media also has some potential problems and risks. For every user of social medias, information security is very important. Besides, cyber world is not lawless place, everybody should regular own languages and behaviours, misconducts would create troubles to others and create criminals.
Christian, F. (2017). Social Media: A Critical Introduction. 2nd edition. London: Sage.
Clement, J. (2019). Most popular mobile social networking apps in the United States as of June 2019, by monthly users (in millions), Statista, retrieved from < https://www.statista.com/statistics/579443/top-us-social-networking-apps-ranked-by-monthly-sessions/>.
Sam, H & Larissa, H (2013). Understanding Social Media. London: Sage.
Six Degrees. (n.d.). Six Degrees Social Engine, Six Degrees, retrieved from < http://sixdegrees.com/ >.
Suciu, P (2019). Think Safety When Using Social Media, Forbes, retrieved from < https://www.forbes.com/sites/petersuciu/2019/10/09/think-safety-when-using-social-media/#627058325a0c>.
Terrell, K. (2015). The History of Social Media: Social Networking Evolution, History Cooperative, retrieved from <https://historycooperative.org/the-history-of-social-media/>.
Tourism Australia. (n.d.). ‘Australia’, Tourism Australia, Twitter, retrieved from < https://twitter.com/Australia>.