Author and educator Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1967 that we should look at how the introduction of communication mediums, such as radio and television, impact our world. His work focused on how television, for example, changed our lives, rather the programs that aired on your TV.
McLuhan’s words ring even more true 45 years later, as we look at how social media has changed our lives:
Faster than a speeding bullet
Information reaches us faster than ever. When US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in January 2009, witnesses shared their observations via Twitter and other social networks. The world knew the story within minutes of the landing.
Short and sweet
By design, social media communications are short and to the point, a practice most writing experts suggest we must now adopt to stay relevant.
LinkedIn has become the new Rolodex, a depository of contact names, job titles, addresses, and phone numbers. Even better than its paper predecessor, your contacts update their profile and you have the most current information at your fingertips. Simple and easy.
Haven’t seen a classmate in years? No problem. Thanks to Facebook, you can keep in touch with your entire class from the comfort of your computer. No need to pick up the phone. Type in a status update and dozens or hundreds of friends know where you took the kids today.
Everyone has a voice
Gone are the days when you needed contacts or access to media to share your thoughts with the masses. Anyone can start a blog, Tweet, pin photos, etc. If you’re good, and a little creative, you’ll find a following.
Advice at your fingertips
Can’t decide which wine to serve with dinner? Post a question to your friends and followers. LinkedIn, for example, has user groups that can answer questions from where to travel in France to which lens is best for photographing sports.
We won’t be ignored
Big brother may be watching, but he’s not in charge. The introduction of the web and social media has taken ownership of communications away from those traditionally in positions of authority. Gone are the days when a company can issue a statement without fear of repercussions. Every half-truth, every misstep can bring a barrage of tweets and posts from angry followers. Bottom line, social media is going a long way to encourage honesty, integrity, and transparency.
Marshall McLuhan died in 1980, but I’m sure the impact of social media would bring a smile to his face, knowing he was right when he penned the phrase, The medium is the message.