Throughout the class we’ve learned about social media’s seemingly limitless capabilities and reach. Social media has grown from a simple space where people play on their virtual farms to an inseparable part of our daily lives.
This year alone, politicians are expected to spend upwards of $1 billion dollars online ads with social media sites accounting for $558M, or nearly 60 percent of that total. Terrorist group ISIS has built an effective online propaganda campaign fueled by mainstream social media platforms, growing its recruitment and spread its message to the masses. The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has promised to donate 99% of his Facebook shares over time, valued at $45B . The global power of social media is undeniable and will continue to grow.
Already Facebook is making plans to increase its influence in developing areas by providing free WiFi via an army of solar powered drones. Facebook’s free WiFi strategy also includes the use of low-earth-orbit satellites and even infrared laser beams to boost Internet connections in remote areas. As this initiative known as Internet.org expands, social media giant Facebook will not only be compelled to form newer partnerships but also to invent newer technologies. One of Facebook’s main competitors, Google, has responded by acquiring Titan Aerospace, a company developing drones capable of flying non-stop on solar power for up to five years. Five years ago I would have never imagined that the same company that brought us Farmville would be competing with everybody’s favorite search engine over who can build the best fleet of flying robots.
Social media’s reach knows no bounds. It has been the focus of workplace issues for several companies while simultaneously being leveraged to improve workplace communication. A college student’s life has been forever changed because of his love and (drunken) passion for jalapeno bacon mac and cheese went viral throughout major social platforms [vid here]. NASA released the most detailed image of Pluto in the history of mankind on Instagram. Even as of writing this post, social media’s influence can be felt on Boston College’s campus. Several BC students have taken to Twitter to shame the Chipotle for being the root cause of the campus’s recent E. Coli outbreak, most notably affecting Boston College’s basketball team.
Many of you have written about the adverse effects of social media and have decided to remove it entirely from your lives. There are several legitimate reasons for doing so. Studies have revealed that social media can cause anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Many of you have also discussed how social media has become more annoying than useful overtime, as your Newsfeed becomes littered with photos of babies, happy exes and regurgitated news articles. To those of you who feel this way, I strongly advocate you reconsider. After taking this course, I feel that there are far more pros than cons to using social media, and I anticipate that I’ll be using social media more than ever before. Using only this class as an example, we’ve seen how social media has been leveraged to grow professional networks, support businesses and promote crowdfunding campaigns. Like any tool, social media is contingent upon the user. Too many annoying posts of babies/exes? Block them. Feeling anxious over people’s happy post? Adjust your perspective of social media with the understanding that many use it to promote personal “highlight reels.” Not enough interesting content on your feed? Edit your Likes/Interest/Followed accounts. Social Network companies have spent loads of time and resources developing highly responsive algorithms to curate content specifically tailored to you. Give the system enough time and inputs and you’ll notice the difference.
It’s been a fantastic semester getting to know all of you. I hope all of you enjoy your breaks and have a Merry Christmas!