The Wisdom of Crowds: How Social Media Is Changing the World
Human beings, as far as time could tell, inherently have the need for connection with each other. We now live in a world that makes that possible, anytime and all the time. The internet has significantly changed the way people communicate with each other. More than a decade ago, the buzz around the world wide web was the introduction of electronic messaging, or simply called e-mail. It was a communication breakthrough. Slowly, it caught up with the people all over the world. It somehow made our post offices irrelevant for a while. Families now have a cheaper, faster and more convenient way to be in touch with each other, even if they were 6,000 miles away from each other.
Instant messenger also found its way through homes and offices with personal computers. It provided friends real-time conversations and an avenue of building new ones along the way. By this time, the internet has broken down barriers between people. Time zones already mean nothing in this digital age. Given the pace of innovation and adoption, change has become constant. The internet is ever-changing, ever-evolving, giving us 'world changing' technologies one after the other. The most recent one is the advent of social media.
Social media, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a form of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content. According to a paper written by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlin entitled 'Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media ', there are 6 different types of social media: collaborative projects, blogs and microblogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual game worlds and virtual social worlds. Each of these enables users from across continents to share and converse with each other.
We are connected and connected with hundreds of millions of people at any given moment, thanks to social media. It plays heavily on what humans do best: to connect with each other. This ability produces a deep cross-fertilization of culture, ideas, thoughts and opinions. This same ability has not only taken the world by storm, but changed it as well.
With social media, people have become more aware of their surroundings, of situations all over the world. It ignited conversations that eventually led to digital revolutions. Social media has been instrumental in creating cohesives between disparate groups in the Middle East. Twitter and Facebook pushed for popular uprisings of people against their dictatorial governments in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Tunisia. The nature of medium by which the messages were propagated largely contributed to the speed at which these revolutions and uprisings unraveled. The sentiments of one nation virally spread across other regions and sparked not just curiosity, but snowballed emotions as well. People from other continents amplified the calls from violations nations, and pushed their own leaders to act. Truly, it welcomed about courage from people within; after all, they have the whole world backing them up. The New York Times suggested that social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter helped people organize the political revolutions in Egypt where it helped certain classes of protesters organize protests, communicate grievances, and dissiminate information.
Social media also allowed for businesses and companies to be more responsive to their customers. Companies have taken the 'wisdom of the crowds' to their own advantages, soliciting discussions and discussions across much social media platforms as they could eventually market their products in a costless manner, while getting new ideas on how to make their products more efficient and effective at the same time. Marketers now have the challenge of marketing in a very personal level with potential customers. One good or bad tweet of a consumer can lead to a rippling effect.
Overall, the true impact of social media lies in one word: change. It is helping the world spark change in one way or another. It is helping the world gradually develop in a more humane digital world. It allows for a defect connection, outside of mere texts changed from halfway across the world-it brings with it emotion. Businesses will grow to a more customer-oriented companies, rather than profit-oriented. The ability to harness this newfound power lies extremely to the people who stand benefitted from it.