‘Anti’-Social Media: The irony of online networking

[avatar user=”dsgoldman@fullsail.edu” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” /] By Dylan S. Goldman

01/13/2015

There’s no doubt about it: the world, and everything in it, is steadily becoming digitized – even down to the way we communicate.

Since 1980, when we first entered the “Digital Revolution“, mainstream society has gone from “Leave It To Beaver” to “The Jetson’s“. Although today’s world may not have flying cars or a diner in the sky, it does have one of the most significant and far-reaching technological toys to date: the smartphone.

According to Pew Research’s Internet and American Life Project, in 2013, 87 percent of the world’s global population is online, of whom 74 percent use social media regularly. The study also found that 61 percent of the population owns a smartphone. That number is projected to jump to 69.4 percent in 2017, according to eMarketer‘s “Worldwide Mobile Phone Users: H1 2014 Forecast and Comparative Estimates” report.

Infographic designed by Dylan S. Goldman. Data from Pew Research Center and Nielsen Research.

Ease of access to the Internet is one of the key trends responsible for the significant number of people using social media sites, whether it be by computer or smartphone, according to the “NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition“. 

Pew Research shows that of the 800+ social media sites available online to date, Facebook is by far the most popular choice of online adults, and is used by 71 percent of adults who use social media. Tied for second are LinkedIn and Pinterest, both totaling 28 percent of the online population, followed by Instagram at 26 percent and lastly Twitter at 23 percent. What now seems like a social networking dinosaur, MySpace, the favorite between 2005 – 2008, is left in the dust with a meager 16 percent.

Digital communication as an instrument of change in the way people communicate is nothing new. In 2008, a Nielsen study measured, by age group, the average amount of texts sent and received versus phone calls placed per month. The results showed that there was a direct correlation between age and digital communication. The study showed that younger people tended to communicate more via text than voice, and older people tended to do the opposite. The mean, and also pivotal point of the texting to voice call ratio, landed in the 35 -44 year old age group.

With our society quickly moving toward a world in which digital communication is the norm, one can’t help but wonder if face-t0-face communication will one day be a thing of the past.

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