How Much Has Social Media Changed Society?

This is a topic I was recently asked the other day by a colleague of mine who is involved in business consulting for large corporations. The question made me think about how much has changed in society (whether we realize it or not) as a result of social media. Think about it, it was only approximately 20 some odd years ago that the average person was beginning to become associated with the internet. Prior to that, the internet was mostly reserved for academia and various government agencies. Before that it was only reserved for the U.S. government (the official origins of the internet began back in 1969 with the U.S. military’s funding of a research network dubbed “Arpanet“). Today, we have not only the internet, but we have social media tied in there as well.

The Term Social Media

As the term “social media” implies:

media” is a place where publications occur.

social” implies that there is sharing occurring. A sharing of ideas, opinions, images.

The social in social media also implies the tools, places and services that allow people to gather for social interaction. Social media allows individuals to gather and express themselves in a much more simple and immediate fashion. By giving people this capability, they not only have the ability to share ideas, opinions and other contents, but also (if they wish) gain notoriety, and expand their influence.

The ability to do so has altered the way ideas change hands and how fast those ideas spread. At the same time, news and any information that would usually take days or even weeks to go from one location to another can now occur in seconds. This ease of communication has never been so available to people around the world as it is now and it is still continuing to evolve. Remember that throughout history, many countless numbers of governments have created and held onto their power by controlling information and the spreading of ideas. Because of social media, many of these types of governments can no longer function this way any longer. Why? Because the technology available to a person is so economical and simple to utilize that virtually anyone with some education or training on the subject can become a point of contact for the communication of information.

The Delivery of News, the Sharing of Ideas, the Expression of Opinions

The spreading of an idea, or of news occurring somewhere in the world can no longer be completely blocked by any organization. As long as one person is able to connect to the internet and express their view about a situation or simply about an idea, then the information that individual will want to share, will get out into the world. Remember, last year during the Iranian elections when there were (and to some extent still are) people disagreeing with the “official” election outcome, the Iranian government attempted to control the communication and the images of what was occurring in Iran from getting out. They were never able to control all the information and images that were being seen by the world in ‘real-time’. In another example, when an earthquake rocked the country of Haiti, not only were images from the torn country in the aftermath of the quake being seen around the world but commentaries and opinions of what people were seeing were being read and heard (from Haiti). Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and FriendFeed allow people to share ideas on not just news, but also on products and services. Products and Services that before social media, many people would not have even heard about them, let alone request or want the service.

Needless to say, social media has forever changed the way society works, whether it’s the sharing of an idea, the communication of news, or the availability of a product or service. Society today is on the verge of a new way of existing that it’s never experienced before. No longer will people from one side of the world be really able to say that they will never see a person or communicate with someone from the other side of the world ever in their life. No longer will people not be able to share an idea, if they really want to share it (no matter how radical it may be or no matter how many people may disagree with it). No longer will the spreading of information or the expressing of an opinion be able to be completely silenced. As long as there is a person who wishes to express their opinion, share their music or art, or simply say hello to another human being in another country or culture, social media will allow them to do so.

  • What are some of your opinions as to how social media has changed society?
  • How do you believe social media will be in the future?
  • What will social media look like in 5 or even 10 years from now? 15 or 20 years from now?

Gil Pizano is an experienced leader and management professional and is currently part of the management group within the business intelligence segment of a major property and casualty insurance company. He has an MBA from the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business along with a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the University of Hartford’s College of Engineering.

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Gil Pizano is an experienced leader and management professional and is currently part of the management group within the business intelligence segment of a major property and casualty insurance company. He has an MBA from the University of Hartford's Barney School of Business along with a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the University of Hartford’s College of Engineering.


COMMENTs ( 8 )

  1. dave says

    One can think of how social media has facilitated entrepeneurship, even in a country like South Africa.

    For example, social media makes it easier for you to promote youself, your business, campaign, website, blog etc.

    Social media makes the tools more accessible,
    eespecially to people who who don’t have money to use traditional avenues, such as print media or whatever. These people can be high school kids,
    or college students, housewives or army dudes. Facebook, twitter etc allows individuals to communicate their message to other individuals more easily.

    It enables the message to spread with as much ease as would a billboard or a TV advert.

    As for how social media in the future, perhaps we will be communicating not just with human beings, but with our personal robots too.

    • Gil Pizano says

      Thanks Dave for the comment and excellent points. The means of communication are simpler and easier to use today than ever before. The world has become a smaller place and it will continue to become smaller as time goes on thanks to how social media will evolve. It will be interesting to see what those personal robots will look like.


  2. Military Lending says

    Americans want to know first-hand what is going on on the other side of the world, where our troops are stationed and representing us. We have a right, as well as our soldiers, to know what is going on over there. I feel very strongly about the military easing up on their “rules” for social media.

    • Chaitanya.GK says

      I second that!!, it has become much easier for any country to know what other countries are trying to develop or research, good point :)

  3. Chaitanya.GK says

    Nicely put together article :). I would like to few things in future though, there should a common forum of the world and set a few rules and make sure freedom of experssion is not effected in any case. For example countries like China and Pakistan are handling the media blocking some sites making their own policies. Google had enough with China and now Facebook in Pakistan.

    • Gil Pizano says

      Good points Chaitanya! Countries like China, and Pakistan are doing quite a bit in the blocking of media and making sure online users in their respective countries follow the rules those governments put in place. On a good note (in my humble opinion), they will never be able to block everything going into the country or leaving it. This is because as long as there is someone who wishes the information to either get out or get in, technology has become so available and functional that it allows a person with basic skills to communicate with others around the world. In one way or another. Freedom of expression is one of the most important freedoms we as human beings have. “Without freedom of expression and thought, there can be no intelligent debate.” The unfortunate part is that, depending on where a person lives, that expression can have dire consequences. Regardless, the need for human beings to express themselves is part of humanity itself and no governmental entity will ever be able to stop that.

      Thanks again for your comments Chaitanya!

  4. Ryan says

    Hi Gil,

    You share thought-provoking points about social media.

    Social media accentuates our inter-connectedness. We’ve always been connected but the means with which to communicate have evolved slowly over time. First we had to physically travel to communicate. Over time, the telephone allowed us to dial up people to speak to them. Now with simply an internet connection and computer you can speak to anyone in the world.

    I still marvel at the fact that I’ve made friends with people from Malaysia, South Africa, and all over the world while I sit typing away from the East Coast of the U.S. It’s mind boggling how small the world has become with the advent of the internet.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Gil :)


    • Gil Pizano says

      Thanks Ryan for your feedback! I agree with and share your amazement in how we are able to make friends with people on the other side of the world in countries we’ve never been to (yet! :) ). I’ve made friends with so many people around the world and they’ve taught me so much with regards to social media amongst many other topics that all I can say is that I’m truly humbled. The world is basicall becoming a smaller and smaller place. Many people are already working every day with colleagues that are more than one country. I myself work with people in a few U.S. states and well as India, U.K., Mexico and South America. That is just simply amazing! Cheers!