Have you ever wondered what led to the development and rise of social media? Is it simply a byproduct of technology? Why do we use social media?
These questions are of great significance for every social media user. But unfortunately, no one bothers to ask or answer these questions. If we ask or answer these questions we will be able to use social media in a much better way than we are doing it right now.
As many people are misusing or overusing social media, it is important to discuss what led to the development of social media.
Rise of Social Media- Early 2000s
Email services and chatrooms were popular among internet users in the late 1990s. But we cannot count them as social media platforms because of lack of features.
The early 2000s was the time when social media started to appear. The first well known social networking site was Myspace which had more than 100 million users worldwide. After Myspace several other networks like Youtube, Facebook and some instant messaging platforms emerged.
And this was the beginning of social media era.
Need of Social Media in initial days
But what led to such an exponential expansion of social media?
To answer this, we should define social media first. According to Wikipedia, the term social media can be defined as:-
Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.Wikipedia’s definition of social media
So the question of the cause of exponential growth of social media has multiple answers and all are equally valid. Social media can be thought of as a byproduct of technology, a means of faster communication and majorly a simple tool to connect with the world.
1. Social Media- Byproduct of Technology
There should be no hesitation in saying that social media is a byproduct of technology. The rise of internet users in the last two decades is proportional to the rise of social media. The more the internet expanded the more number of social media platforms were developed.
The internet didn’t invent many new things but it simply transformed real-life things and activities to virtual mode. Like mail got transformed to e-mail or like stock trades could be now traded using online terminals. Similarly, social media emerged as a transformation of real life because of technology.
2. Faster and better means of communication
The second reason what led to the development and rise of social media was that it was a better means of communication.
Social media helped in providing a faster means of communication than the previous methods of online communications. The sharing of images, video files and chatting could be easily done on one single platform and also simultaneously. This helped in the growth of social media platforms.
3. A tool for social connection
This was one of the main reasons for the rising interest of people on social media platforms. And understanding this reason can help us in dealing with most of our problems related to social media.
Connecting with the world at one click was never possible through any means of technology but social media helped us in this. Many of the founders of social media platforms often used (and still use) to describe social media as the way to ‘connect with the world’.
The ‘social’ element in social media attracted a lot of people, especially in western society. The concept that you can talk to a random person and become his/ her ‘friend’ was never too easy. But social media allowed us to interact with random strangers and even become close friends.
The terms used in various social media platforms like ‘friend’, ‘follower’, ‘connection’, etc. made these platforms appear more social. Getting appreciations in various forms like ‘likes’, ‘comments’, ‘shares’, etc. motivated people to freely express their pictures and even social and political opinions.
Social media turned out to as a boon for people especially the youth in its early days.
Social Media: Then Vs Now
Though it is difficult to say whether social media is still advantageous for present-day users or not. This is because of many problems being encountered by users like data theft, lack of privacy, cyberbullying, political propaganda, fake news, approval cycles in teenagers and the most common being the social media addiction.
The present-day usage is much different from what was expected during the initial days of social media or the reasons for the rise of social media.
So if someone wants to use social media then he/she must use it as a simple tool for communication and connecting with people rather than an alternative to the real world. This will help him/her in not getting trapped into the vicious cycle of likes, comments and shares and the problem of social media addiction could also be avoided easily.