True, there are still two months remaining until 2020 ends, but we figure it’s OK to start summing it up by now. While social media was a thing even before 2010, only during this decade did it reach the proportions it is in now (for better and worse). It was hard to choose social media’s three biggest impacts on humanity, but we gave it a shot anyway. Ready? Here we go.
Maybe we’ve all forgotten about it by now, but this decade started with a series of government collapses across the middle east and a whole lot of social unrest. This didn’t happen because of social media, but Facebook, Twitter and their friends had a huge part in it. Once authoritative nations blocked communication between people, they used social media to spread the message.
The result? At least 4 regime changes in the middle east (and, sadly, many more civil wars). But it’s not just about extreme revolutions. It’s also about control of information – and fake information – that has allegedly affected election results. There’s no need to mention the endless accusations of outside interference in the American election system over the past decade, via social media.
Bottom line? We can’t really quantify this phenomenon. We can’t tell how many times, via social media, people have managed to change the way they are governed. We can say though, for sure, that leaders and governments all over the world have realized they need to change the way they work – because social media remembers everything and has the power to spread information like no other medium before it.
A little privacy, please
In direct continuation, for every good aspect, there’s a bad one as well. The massive amount of social media users worldwide enables big tech giants to collect data on us and store it, in order to use it at their own free will. Some say that social media is free because we, the users and our privacy, are the product being sold to advertisers. Your hobbies, your interests, your browsing history, your political opinions, even your fears – the giants know it all and have the ability to use it for their own profit.
Alt text: Remember life before everything was a ‘hashtag’? Neither do we.
However, many people believe that this really isn’t as big a deal as it’s made out to be. Facebook and Google aren’t the only ones who know everything about you, your government probably does as well. True, they use your details to better suit advertisements to your personality, but that’s not illegal. Besides, if you’re not a criminal, you probably have nothing to hide, do you? Of course, this is a bit of an extreme point of view, since we all value our privacy, but the point is that you can’t hide yourself these days so maybe you shouldn’t try so hard.
Either way, this is pretty much irreversible. Many governments have tried, with no avail, to use their legislative and judiciary systems in order to limit the tech giants’ abilities. We probably just have to get used to the fact that our privacy is not what it used to be. After all, nobody’s forcing us to use social media and share our information, are they?
Bye and sell
If you think the way we do business has changed just because of the internet, you’re underestimating the important role social media has here. Facebook Marketplace, for example, was founded only in 2016 and has already changed how people buy and sell. Gone are the middleman and the uncertainty, today you buy directly from the source you deem trustworthy enough. And this revolution, amplified by Facebook, has skipped almost no field of commerce.
Take a look for example at this new sneaker marketplace called SnkrsDen, aiming at enabling buyers and sellers to communicate directly. This is a huge blow to overpriced sneaker stores – as well as to shady retailers operating on the internet, selling phony merchandise. And this is just one of many examples.
Alt text: Changed the way we shop, 180 degrees.
But that’s not all – social media has also changed the way marketers advertise online, the way transactions are made, the standard practices of charging commissions and interest rates, and so forth. Buying and selling is nothing like what it used to be – and it seems to be to our advantage. As SnkrsDen founder Yaniv Bar commented when we asked him, “the world inevitably moves forward and becomes more technological, there’s no reason for shopping to stay behind.”