2014 was a banner year for social media. When crunching the numbers we see 8,200 tweets, 1,500 Instagrams, 1,600 Tumblr posts, 46,000 Google searches, contributing to over 24,000 GB of internet traffic – per SECOND. In one day alone, over 860 million people use their Facebook accounts to post, share, and interact with online content.
This planet is experiencing a mass social experiment like none before. No matter your age, gender, or economic background, you are part of a technological crusade of evangelical proportions. And it shows no signs of slowing down.
How we connect, select community, access information and share ‘till it hurts, remains as it was when homo erectus walked the earth. This is what we do, we do it well and we will continue to do it, for many more years.
To close out 2014 let us look at the top five key reasons why social media is, and will continue to be, a good thing.
#1: Social Media Helps You Make Friends.
Survey Says: The need to connect is hardwired into our species.
The plain fact is we need to be part of something bigger. How else can we brag, or complain without knowing our euphoria or pain is shared by those around us? In our relentless pursuit of being part of something bigger, we desperately seek to connect. Whether with complete strangers, or past acquaintances, we yearn to develop trust by exchanging emotional discourse with others. Our minds subconsciously repeat, ‘I like them and I want them to be part of my world.’
Introverted? Shy? No problem. Social media is here to make this connection for you.
#2. Social Media Makes You Smart.
Survey Says: The size of our social networks is directly related to the size of our brain.
Behavioural scientists like Robin Dunbar confirm, we have big neo-cortexes. This is the part of our brain that processes higher functions. Such as sensory perception, motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and in humans beings, language. Being only two chromosomes apart from our simian ancestors (on which the finding is based) humans have the ability to grow our neo-cortexes with absolute ease by simply expanding our networks. All we need to do is add an extra Facebook friend, Twitter follower or LinkedIn group everyday and our brain naturally grows. How awesome is that!
Now I’m Feeling like @SmartyPants is not that bad of a Twitter handle after all.
#3. Social Media Can Change History.
Survey Says: Social media users will look to ‘real-time’ events in order to become part of the event.
Mashable’s 10 Historical Events Affected by Social Media lays out the bare truth. Social media has the capability to adjust historical outcomes. Take Super Storm Sandy, Arab Spring, even the tragic events in Sydney Australia this past week. How would these events have unfolded without social media’s participation?
Social media is the platform where news stories break – not TV. Equally, social media is commonly used in crisis communication. This is substantiated when law enforcement routinely call for social media blackouts during crisis. This allows authorities to converse in ‘real-time,’ therefore altering outcomes almost immediately. It seems not only do we have the ability to change history, we also want to be the FIRST.
Stamford University and Microsoft research confirms, when users search for ‘real-time’ events, hyper intensive topics as terror, often evolve so fast it creates a (virtual) ‘pile-on.’ Once the information is absorbed and shared, off we go to be the first to form another ‘pile.’ Humans now have the vehicle that allows us to be part of the much bigger cultural mainstream.
Social media allows us to change history and still retain a feeling of belonging. How great is that!
#4. Social Media Bites! (But in a good way)
Survey Says: The ‘Social Media Contageon’ is an epidemic of extraordinary force that infects everyone who dares to log on.
In the New York Times Insights study, Psychology of Sharing, sharing helps build self-actualization, esteem and connectedness. All the important elements of being social. The big difference today is; this gigantic concept called the Information Age is a game changer. Sharing is now on steroids. We share more, from more, with more, more often and more quickly than ever before. And the speed is breathtaking. If you thought the common flu virus was communicable, it holds nothing to a viral event on the internet – good or bad.
Actual pandemics have benefited from this capacity to share information through surveillance as the public clamour to follow the outbreak.
Social is infectious but satisfying. We have been bitten by speed, lured by trust and comforted by community. But what a great thing this new digital malady is. We can commiserate, cheer, applaud or cry – together; almost immediately.
We are able to share our sacred emotions within our own social community.
#5. Social Media is Here to Stay
Survey Says: As we move into 2015, social media will offer bold new opportunities to all the counted millions of users.
Will it ever!
In business, social media will enable a multitude of businesses to strategize media convergence, utilize big data procurement, and monetize big revenues from e-commerce.
In society, social media will bring people together in growing numbers to grieve our soldiers or cheer on our national sports heroes.
However you use social media remember, it is loud, it is proud and it’s not going anywhere.
The presence and pace of social media can be summed up by Pete Townsend of The Who when quoted, “Keith Moon, God rest his soul, once drove his car through the glass doors of a hotel, driving all the way up to the reception desk, got out and asked for the key to his room.” Speed, tenacity and pure audacity is why social media rocks in 2014 and will in 2015!
In closing, with all rational thinking comes the other argument on social’s place in society.
5 Crazy Ways Social Media is Changing Your Brain Right Now.