While historians of old divided history into before Christ and after Christ, one day future historians might be justified in dividing history into before Facebook (BFB) and after Facebook (AFB, or some weird Latin that means the same thing). Love it or hate it, social media has changed every aspect of our lives, from our everyday communications to our political movements. Social media is now used for everything; from stalking our crushes to starting revolutions, and new sites and apps are debuting all the time. There’s no doubt that social media has changed society, making everyone more connected and essentially turning the entire world into one big grapevine. Only ten years after its explosion to popularity, social media has built a very impressive resume: connecting the world, allowing a flow of information, and spurring social change.
Changes in Communication
Thanks to the numerous social media sites, the entire world is now a series of internet profiles. The days of painstakingly looking people up in phone books or losing the numbers of old friends are over; when someone loses contact, they can look them up on Facebook in a few minutes or less. We can interact with other people from across the world in an instant, truly creating a global society. While our countries might not be getting along, I can play a game of Quizup with someone from Iran. One game allows our interactions with fellow humans to transcend politics, and helps us realize both our surprising cultural similarities and fascinating differences.
Changes in Information Delivery
Thanks to global connectedness, information is now harder to control. Any country (save North Korea) that has tried to suppress their citizens’ access to social media sites has encountered exceeding difficulty and resistance. People’s knowledge is no longer limited to what their government wants them to know; information is free for everyone, which is beyond the even the wildest dreams of the brave people who struggled for centuries to bring learning to the masses. Governments may have as much military might as ever, but they will never again have the same sway over their people’s minds.
Changes in Organization
Due to social media’s ability to connect people and relay information, it has played integral roles in recent social and political uprisings in countries all over the world. Social media was used to organize protestors in the Arab Spring, and while the exact extent of the social media’s influence on the many uprisings is still being debated, there is no doubt that it played an important role. While the poor conditions in those countries were the motive for revolution, many would argue that information about the corrupt governments shared via social media helped provide the spark that ignited the blaze.
All this has been accomplished with only two out of the world’s seven billion people using social media. It’s exciting to imagine what the world will be like when every single person is part of this global network. Social media has dramatically changed the world in only ten years; I can’t wait to find out what the next ten will hold. I have a feeling that social media’s influence on our world is only just getting started.