How Social Media Can Unite Us
Arguably the most important invention ever devised by man is language. It’s what allows us to communicate and it’s the only way to share our reality with each other. No invention by man has empowered us more than communication. Quite possibly, communication in all its forms has been the secret to success for all life on earth. Intuitively, communication is what will unite us.
When we reflect back on the long list of inventions which have enabled communication we’ll also see the startling effects each invention has had. From spoken word to uniform written languages, paper to record, the printing press to distribute, all the way to the internet the influence of communication is undeniable.
Today some communication has branched off into social networks. MySpace started to show us what was possible when we used them. The ability to connect with people online has been a tremendous boon to global connectivity. But the Internet, not social networks, made that possible. We had email before MySpace, and MySpace before Facebook or Twitter. Social networks are unique in that they are not entirely made to communicate. A better way to understand them is by thinking of social networks as individual mediums. They each serve their own purpose be it music, news, or whatever it is Facebook is trying to do–converting us into ads perhaps? Social networks are mediums through which we communicate. What this tells us is that not all are created equal and membership numbers are important. If we look at it in this way, email is one of the best networks because of its reach and ease of use.
So, when I look at Facebook or even the Internet I wonder, is this it? Is this the pinnacle of the Internet? Are we there yet?
And of course, the sneaking suspicion we all have is no, it’s not the pinnacle, and no, we’re not there.
Despite that we haven’t seen the full potential of the Internet, the lesson it’s currently teaching us is a profound one. The Internet is teaching us that we can look to the future with as much faith as we can the past. Generally, we’ve always looked to what we know to decide where to go next, that’s how we work. But, that mentality is changing. The rapid pace of innovation is making it clear that we can also look to the future and expect great things. Why shouldn’t we?
So, when I look at the Internet I see the potential to unite the world and it’s only getting easier to imagine.
Social networking as we know it is only a stepping stone medium and it will fall short of achieving unity, we need bigger and newer ideas. The Social Network does connect us, true, but to a degree analogous to telephones. Everyone is in the network, everyone has a number, but you still don’t know everyone or have a good way to create a relationship with someone other than out of the blue contact.
Unity requires something much more than just showing off a glorified version of ourselves and our connections – unity is not shallow. Our accomplishments are important, but our accomplishments are less about what we buy and more about how we express ourselves with who. The social network just doesn’t do a great job of allowing that, Twitter being a notable exception.
Communication is expression. And the Internet needs to realize its full potential in allowing us to freely express ourselves to those who care – there is no greater freedom.
When our current social networks are replaced we’ll start to see what it means to have a world where each individual is able to express themselves freely; the world will begin to unite. Because if I am able to freely express I will start to see a reflection of myself. What you create through how you express yourself and act is the greatest mirror into yourself, it’s your art. And when everyone is able to openly do the same we’ll not only begin to see our place and who we are, we’ll also see how our place fits in with everyone else’s and who they are.
The next evolution of communication isn’t something that will take forever, it’s just around the corner.