A Short History of Social MediaBy Xavier Ahern
May 27, 2020
Social media is a part of the history of humanity. We as people want to talk to one another. We want to share our experiences with as many people as possible and we want to communicate how we feel about them. The earliest forms of social media were letters, telegraphs, the radio, and the first telephones. I’ve never really thought about these things as social media, but media is after all a broad means of communication. People have been trying to communicate over distances for a long time. The 20th century simply gave us a way to do so more efficiently.
Fast forward to beginnings of the internet in the 1960s. Email was just a baby, the user friendly internet of today just a zygote. They grow up so fast.
Computers in the home began catching on in the 80s and people began to message each other online via Internet Relay Chats (IRCS). But one of the first social media websites was Six Degress. You could create a profile and make friends with other people online. Blogging became popular just after Six Degrees took off, and everything exploded from there.
I can’t really imagine my life without social media. I was born into the Age of the Internet, but there was a large chunk of my life when I didn’t have internet access while the rest of my friends did. I was the last of my peer group to get a smartphone. It took me at least three tries to figure out how to work Facebook. I still feel like I’m not using Twitter yet. I like Tumblr. Everyone on Tumblr expects you to be trash at everything and they’re very accepting of it. Instagram is fun, but I’m not that great at taking pictures. Did you know you could buy followers on Instagram? That’s how important social media is now! People buy followers on Instagram to expand their reach!
A lot of people claim that social media is making us socialize less. That’s just not true. We are always talking to someone. I’m always talking to someone. I have friends that I talk to daily from around the world. I socialize less when I’m not plugged into social media. We still socialize, we just socialize differently. Before the internet, people sat on the bus and read newspapers. Before TV people sat inside and read books. Social media is constantly evolving so people can connect with each other and this is a good thing!
What does this mean for the future of social media? It means it’s going to be around forever, and that probably means there’s always going to be a group of people who think it’s ruining society. But the short of the matter is that people love to communicate. Humans love to share and spread news and information. We love to experience new things and make new memories and then spread all these experiences and memories to the far reaches of the globe. We love to create community, and that’s what we are doing through social media.