Columns

The boom of social media technology

BY Melissa Salmon

Tuesday, March 25, 2014    

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"Let's take a selfie! No let's like, tag and share this post," are some of the most used phrases of today's media world. The boom of social media is even more pervasive in 2014. Most people have become avid social media users fuelling an enduring boom of social media channels. Users are also enrolling in Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — a tool for collecting and organising things that inspire you — LinkedIn. This global trend has spread from baby boomers to even established organisations that are communicating through Facebook which, according to http://www.statisticbrain.com, has a whopping 1.4 billion users.

The use of social media technology has become revolutionary and in some ways it has helped many feel a sense of belongingness. It provides a platform for even the meekest of voices to be heard. And with millions of people wanting to stay connected with friends, family, fans, customers, and organisations, it helps one stay current. It is a PR playground and an advertiser's dream.

It creates publicity, which most individuals and corporate entities seek. A lot of people have become their own PR practitioner, and with that many have gained instant social media prominence. Many have started their own e-commerce business, because trading has become effortless and efficient.

Personally, I was able to make good use of social media technology by establishing an online business called Adorn Shoe Accessories which sells decorative ornaments for footwear through Facebook and Twitter. It has helped me tremendously to keep the business's overheads nominal.

There are many advantages of social media, as well as, some disadvantages. For example, it has helped to spark awareness about criminal activities, it has helped to retrieve data that has aided investigations for the judicial system, and it brought awareness to economic woes and social issues such as poverty and health care concerns like cancer and AIDS.

It has helped not-for-profit organisations to gain sponsorship and volunteers. It has helped influencers to spread positive messages to the masses. Social media technology has aided in the LGBTQIA equality stance; it has brought awareness to women's rights issues, such as equal pay and sexism.

Social media helped to raise funds for the Jamaican bobsled team through crowdfunding. It helped to create viral support for the Voice season 5 winner Tessanne Chin; it has aided in finding missing children, when an Ananda Alert is declared users share the missing persons report. It has provided counselling channels and even stress relief for users. However, it is to be noted that users are more vulnerable to cybercrime because of the vast volume of information that is available. You may have voluntarily chosen to put out such information, which in many cases have been used to aid lawless elements into non-virtual, real world acts of crime such as identity theft and carnal abuse. Social media has sparked much controversy in many relationships, romantic or otherwise. This should spur a warning to always be mindful of the all too famous quote "once it is on the Internet it is there forever".

The fact is social media technology has negative effects, but it has many positives. At the end of the day, the true message is for everyone to be responsible users. Remember, the power is in your hands!

melissa_slmn@hotmail.com

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