If you know the name Martin Cooper, well then, you’re probably really good at trivia games. He’s the former Motorola employee who invented the mobile telephone way back in 1973. When he created that incredible innovation, I’m sure he didn’t anticipate that his device would ever be used for anything more than making phone calls. Fast forward to 2015 and according to media researchers, mobile devices are now used principally for Internet access and text messaging.
When looking just at Internet use, it’s estimated that smartphone users spend more of their time on social media apps like Facebook and Twitter than anything else. That’s an amazing statistic and proof that society is really undergoing a significant shift in how information is received and processed. Nightly news broadcasts and the daily newspaper are being replaced by instantaneous communications feeds that, in most cases are unedited, and certainly not fact-checked.
What to make of this trend? There are positive and negatives. One positive aspect of this digital connectedness is that we are all now “reachable” almost 24 hours a day. You’re accessible to family, friends, co-workers or clients at any time, with a greater ability to quickly respond or react to questions or a crisis. Need to research something? You’re just a Google search away from having the answer. It’s truly instantaneous information at your fingertips whenever you need it. Hard to argue with that.
The negatives are becoming more apparent as well and if you’re like me, you’ve probably had some of these conversations. How much is too much? If your day is spent posting and tweeting are you really being productive? There is also the ability to say too much about your own life or having to read awkward or socially inappropriate details of someone else’s. The problem of “too much information”‘ or TMI, can quickly turn a friendly digital conversation into a mad dash to click unfollow or block a former friend. Hurt feelings, without ever exchanging a word in person, is a byproduct of our growing social media defined world.
Being “social” also has come to mean that you are up to speed on the use of these relatively new technologies. For business purposes, understanding social media’s bottom-line applications is a field of study in its infancy, and one that is still being measured by “likes” and “follows” versus dollars and sales figures. If you work in a business that utilizes social media, how are you using it to improve your business? Ultimately, does the buzz created by the use of social media increase sales?
There’s no doubt that we’ll all figure out the new expectations and realities of a world defined by posts, tweets and text messages. But while we’re getting there, can you please stop posting pictures of your cats or the meal you’re about to eat?