The examples and
perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and
do not represent a
worldwide view of the subject.
Social media has been around since humans began to talk. One of the first
signs of human social media was cave wall paintings. Some of the earliest
forms of social media were not digital. According to the Merriam-Webster
dictionary, the word social is "of or relating to human society, the
interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings
as members of society. The word media means a medium of cultivation,
conveyance, or expression. Media is also a plural form of medium and a
medium is a particular form or system of communication." Some of the
earliest forms of social media were primitive and did not involve a
computer, but did involve some type of technology to convey the message.
Cave paintings were created using pigments, "Ancient peoples decorated walls
of protected caves with paint made from dirt or charcoal mixed with spit or
animal fat. In cave paintings, the pigments stuck to the wall partially
because the pigment became trapped in the porous wall, and partially because
the binding media (the spit or fat) dried and adhered the pigment to the
wall (Ages)." All living things communicate to each other in some way or
another, but humans leave lasting impressions intentionally. A fossil leaves
an impression, but it doesn't do it on purpose or do it by using technology.
Communication and networking (network in the sense of the word to
purposefully interact with others) are vital to our survival and our
history. The cave paintings of Lascaux are estimated to be up to 20,000
years old. As mentioned on the MET website, "most of the paintings are
located at a distance from the cave's entrance, and many of the chambers are
not easily accessible. This placement, together with the enormous size and
compelling grandeur of the paintings, suggests that the remote chambers may
have served as sacred or ceremonial meeting places (Tedesco)."
Social media refers to interaction among people in which they
create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in
virtual communities and
Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a
group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and
technological foundations of
and that allow the creation and exchange of
Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to
create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and
communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content.
They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between
organizations, communities, and individuals.
Social media differ from traditional/industrial media in many ways,
reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence.
There are many effects that stem from internet usage. According to Nielsen,
internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any
other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media
in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121
billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011.
For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have
gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in
career opportunities and monetary income, as discussed in Tang, Gu, and
Geocities, created in 1994, was one of the first social media sites. The
concept was for users to create their own websites, characterized by one of
six "cities" that were known for certain characteristics.