Social media are believed to be a troublemaker in the modern world. Certain research has shown that people get addicted to websites like Facebook in a syndrome called “fear of missing out.” Ones severely affected tend to get an internal impulse to check for incoming messages or invitations to new events at certain moderately short intervals ranging from 5 to 15 minutes. It is unclear whether such syndrome has appeared with the rise of the Internet communication, or is just yet another manifestation of boredom, laziness and procrastination. Opinions exist that humans carry an infinite capacity for entertainment, especially socialization.
Current author’s main defended idea is that mechanisms of social interactions and certain emotional states, up to frustration and critical addiction to social interactions, are an essential property of the human psyche. In addition, they are virtually unrelated to the changes provided by the modern era of communication. With proper self-control and given a rich, satisfying lifestyle, social media should work as a customizable tool for keeping one’s hand on the pulse of most interesting trends and events. Moreover, while most people when communicating prefer talking about events or other people, a special variety exists that prefers discussing only abstract ideas and theories. For such philosopher-type crowds, social media could still be useful as a quick tool of communication.
Everyone has heard the term “social media” as a definition of the specific space created by the existing networks of social relationships between people. The definition itself has nothing to do with the most recent explosion of online website projects and is actually as old as humanity itself. In the prehistoric social settings, the acquisition of powerful status or a certain function inside a tribe was entirely based on the network of one’s connections and ancestor line. Such tendency has kept itself for centuries and still exists in many cultures, being considered the widespread social norm. Thus, yes, people – the social animals that we are, tend to create vast networks of acknowledgments with each other and then rely on those relationships for performing one’s life functions, establishing and reaching goals, etc. It is believed by moral psychology that morals inside a society are both embedded (hard-wired) into the brain and DNA, as well as emerge at the edge of social interactions, given a particular community. Typical examples exercised at introductory and advanced courses in psychology include questions of the kind what would have happened if a child grew up in the jungle, would this being has been a human being per se and how social would it be. Of course, answers vary, from purely psychological interpretation with a strict and confusing “No” up to various theological and other spiritual frameworks applied that predict some more positive and emotionally acceptable outcomes. However, answers to such a question are not as much insightful, as the answers to its immediately obvious follower – imagine that a group of children were to survive on a desert island.
In such elaborate case, more interesting explorations are possible, with the potential for creating alternative structures of society and the emergence of an entirely different set of morals. The major difference between the two above-mentioned scenarios is that when there is more than one human (or other social animal) available, their social interactions are key to other complex phenomena of civilization happening.
While the invention of telephone has been a big boom in the previous century, nowadays people actually prefer quick text communications more than voice or video ones. One can keep up dozens of active communication threads when chatting, which is virtually impossible with voice/video. Furthermore, even in short Internet messaging style of talking (as compared to writing letters or essay polemics) it is possible to formulate one’s thoughts in a well-structured and sophisticated manner. The aforementioned situation is traceable and does not require live synthesis of content: meaning people are much more open and understanding to delays in answers when texting, then while talking.
Social networking projects, like Facebook or LinkedIn, are hardly the pioneers in the rise of social media. Hundreds of other projects has existed and still exist, unknown by the mainstream public because of less aggressive marketing campaigns or because those happened a few decades ago and were not sustained up to today. The most important change brought by this latest flavor or generation of social networking projects is the feature of being centered on certain widespread community phenomena – alumni or professional communities. Being shared by virtually everyone in the modern civilized world, these create a linking point among numerous segregated clusters of people, separated by interests, places, kinds of activities, etc.
Social media are an effective communication platform compared to more traditional ways of locating others and sending messages – including but not limited to:a) means like those based on a “number” – SMS or ICQ;b) or an “address” – e-mail;c) or inside certain closed communities like discussion forums based on the local username;d) the worldwide social media, the one that provides a proper search based on essential information like age, place of birth, school, etc. and an immediate ability to contact the desired person in question is obviously a next-level unification of all social spaces.Such argument can be supported by making an example of the decision made by Google/YouTube to switch users from username to a full name, and simultaneously developing their own brand of community-phenomenon social networking project. Success of projects like Facebook and LinkedIn provides the foundation of such argument.
It is important to mention that most social networking sites, despite their typical attempts to attract users back to their web interface, by the use of e-mail or SMS notifications, actually are a big wraparound of an Instant Messaging (IM) chat or e-mail system. Many of them provide external Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) interfaces to facilitate users in comfortable effective communication, without the need to consume/generate/share content. Interestingly enough, in an aggressive attempt to keep their users more involved, another giant in social networking – Vk, has shut down its XMPP support.
In conclusion, whatever troubles may be attributed or shown to be linked to social media, the key generator of troubles are people themselves; moreover, most so-called problems exist inside their minds/imagination only.