Social media in general means using web-based and mobile technologies to turn your personal communication into an interactive communication with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other users of the media. The larger your social media base, the more people you communicate with at the touch of a button. According to the opinion pollster, Neilson, 22 percent of online time is spent on social media. Facebook has over 800 million users, there are forty millions tweets sent every day, and even old geezers are getting in on the act, with one quarter of people over 65 using a social networking site.
And yet, we know that there are wide swathes of the population who not only don’t use social media, but actively oppose it as an intrusion into our personal lives, at best, and an invasion of our privacy at worst. In social media, there are addicts, adversaries, and the rest of us in the middle.
How do most people use social media (Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Tweeter, Youtube, etc.)? Let’s look at the various levels of use:
Among computer users, there is a small, but shrinking group who actually looked at social media, analyzed its implications in their lives and made a conscious decision to avoid its use whatsoever.
One of the reasons that this group is shrinking is because even if you have decided not to be a social media user, people are often forced into it, simply by answering a questionnaire on a shopping site or entering a contest.
An interesting phenomenon is some social media users who “accidentally” became users. Especially when this media was being first developed, many people were invited to view pictures or join a discussion on a topic of interest, and once they answered a question or two, they had a “page”, sometimes without even realizing it.
A lot of people have experienced the teenage screams and giggles that “OMG, Grandpa has a Facebook page!” These folks rarely post comments and rarely, if ever, put up photos. It is safe to say that we will not see them tweeting in the near future.
There are currently no statistics to support this, but logic and overall usage would tell us that the vast majority of users fall into the two brackets of occasional and addictive users. My guess would be half and half. Occasional users enjoy the ease and convenience of sharing interesting news and events, such as children’s births, visits from loved ones, sports events and of course pictures, to a select group of people that they know.
The occasional user probably has less than 50 “friends” on Facebook and uses it as a message board, rarely posting sensitive or very private information.
Addicts are rarely disconnected from their social media. This is primarily the way they keep everyone in their social circle informed, and their social circle may include hundreds of people. The closeness of the relationship is irrelevant, and it is more a question of prestige that you are interacting with so many people.
Addicts will “friend” people they have just met, or know only casually, and even after such a casual relationship ends, they rarely take the time or trouble to unfriend, so the list continues to grow. Addicts post comments throughout the day, and post pictures, especially cell phone pictures, on a daily basis.
Never, rare, occasional or addict, whichever category you fall in, you will probably be moving up to the next category in the near future, since social media is the communication method of the future. Not all computer users use social media for ‘social’ purposes. There are sexual predators, scam artists and thieves who all would love to have access to your personal info.
So, how do you use social media? Let us know in the comments section below!