While I have certainly learned a lot in our Social Media and Digital Business class this semester, there are a few things that stand out and will have a lasting impact on me.
1) The Internet is a place where things can and will go wrong.
Prime example: Justine Sacco. One stupid, misinterpreted tweet can go viral and inspire a worldwide trending hashtag (#HasJustineLandedYet) that temporarily makes someone’s life the spotlight of attention, criticism, and shaming. There is no predicting what goes viral, but what is certain is that people will immediately be able to read and judge whatever you post. This brings to mind the nightmare of my roommate: becoming a meme. While this may seem like somewhat of an irrational fear, all it takes is for one particularly ridiculous picture of her to be posted on social media and through likes and shares her face could become a meme that people everywhere know and use.
2) I’m most likely addicted to social media.
Ok I definitely am. I routinely check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat hoping that something new and exciting is posted. It’s a habit that I simply cannot break and lord knows how many times I checked social media while trying to write this blog. Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk “Connected, but Alone?” really made me reflect upon how and when I use these platforms. I agree with her that social media has unfortunately given us the ability to pick and choose what real life communications we pay attention to. If I am ever in an awkward situation, you can bet I am quick to take out my phone and start scrolling. The worst is when one of my friends is taking about something that I am not particularly interested in and I have to make a conscious effort in order to not mentally check out and explore the contents of social media. In today’s society, we are rarely ever alone because we can all connect with our social media friends with the click of a few buttons. I try not to touch my phone at the dinner table or right before bed, but the fact that doing this even crosses my mind means that there is a problem. I’m sure social media will continue to evolve over time so that I maintain this level of addiction.
3) Social media has fundamentally changed the way we think and behave, and the way we think and behave has changed social media.
As discussed in Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making us Stupid?” we are less able to focus and less likely to deeply engage with material that we read because of the Internet. We scour the web and social media going from page to page skimming for highlights of information that we barely interact with. We have become used to instant gratification and instant success in finding what we need. The collaborative economy brought on by social and digital businesses has also changed us. We behave differently because these innovations have changed the nature of ownership and we can now pay to use products we typically would have purchased in the past. The collective intelligence aspect of social media also allows users to electronically work and think together in new and innovative ways. We can co-create and electronically become a part of greater initiatives all through these new channels of idea sharing.
Algorithms are based off of the way that we interact with technologies and platforms. They learn to adapt to how we think and behave on social. Now the ads and recommendations we see on social media and digital business platforms are tailored to our ever-changing taste and are more predictive than ever. The ideas we post and our interactions on social media have the ability to go viral and change social media and the world around us. As demonstrated by the social movements and social phenomena that have become widespread over social media, the ideas in our posts have the power to change the economic, social, and political landscape of the world that we live in.
4) The future of social media and digital business is both horrifying and exciting.
Alessandro Acquisti’s Ted Talk “What will a future without secrets look like” thoroughly emphasizes how scary the future of social media can be if we do not take the time and effort to protect our privacy. The day I see a targeted ad that incorporates the face of one of my top Facebook friends will be a day that I question whether social media has gone too far. The fact that companies such as Facebook can use facial recognition in order to identify me and then can use my name in order to learn other things such as my social security number is very unsettling. This makes me want to take the time to read the terms and conditions of the sites that I am a part of, but I’m sure that I will continue to live in ignorant bliss and slowly accept most of the changes that are forced upon me.
While I remain fearful of some of the future uses of my private information, I remain optimistic that social media and digital business will continue to improve my life. As a result of past developments, I can now use my phone to order a car to my current location, send money to a friend with a click of a button, and communicate with people across the world. These are things that I often take for granted, but when comparing life before these changes to the way things are now, it is clear that travel, finance, and communication, to name a few, are all significantly easier. I am excited about the potential impacts that augmented and virtual reality as well as future smart/connected products will have on my everyday life. We thought that by now we would be riding around in space cars, so clearly we cannot say what exactly the future will look like. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.