Social media is exciting. People sense that a paradigm shift is taking place. Many of us are taking a leap of faith… believing that that social media is “the next big thing.” We’re jumping in, both personally and professionally, trusting it will lead us to something higher and brighter than what we have now.
But what’s it really all about? How will social media affect the evolution of society and our individual consciousness?
Digitally Enhanced Natural Selection
Before social media, people met mostly by accident and proximity. Now people are able to research and make very specific choices about careers, dating, travel, education, and consumer products through trusted recommendations from their online connections… rather than by chance (or under the influence of paid advertising).
Social media is still in a larval stage, the full potential is yet to be realized. image:eNil
By casting my “net” wider and wider with social media, I get all kinds of selection opportunities that I would never have had in the face-to-face or old media world. I get invited to events, hear of job postings, and I meet smart people with amazing skills. Plus, I’m able to make much more informed decisions by getting community feedback and observing digital social proof.
More conscious selections are likely to inspire better companies, families, political movements, online collectives and other building blocks of society in the future.
(One downside of the enhanced selection opportunities is when you get hooked up with weird people that you would never, ever want to associate with if you ran into them “organically.” This happens frequently in online chat rooms and dating sites )
Cultivation of Efficient Multitasking & Information Processing Skills
Old media encourages passive consumption.
Social media forces us to expand our networking skills and information processing capacities.
And if we wish to have a following and influence online… then we need to become consummate producers, authors, critics, and thought leaders.
Social media is also dramatically changing our professional workflow. Two decades ago, we only had to deal with a typewriter, the daily mail delivery, and the occasional phone call. A decade ago business e-mail, a single-tabbed Web browser and Microsoft Word got introduced into the mix. Now we’re blitzed by hundreds of messages, feeds, updates, and requests every day.. and there is a constant pressure to learn new tools and services. It’s turning our 8-hour day into a 16-hour one.
Power users are developing mad mental processing capacity. image: Aranya Sen
Some people are slow and in-adept at processing information. They will get left behind. Others, like the top Digg users and the Twitterati, are freaklishly adept and processing and filtering extraordinary, never-before-imagined volumes of information.
Their superior information processing skills give them a modest amount of influence and competitive advantage now… but I think this kind of information processing skill and social intelligence will be much more highly prized in the future. Social media seems like a training ground for a future “information era” society where uber-multitasking ability, voracious appetite for novelty, and impeccable communication ability are the most desired leadership skills.
Dominance of the Social Media Elite Caste
Becoming highly adept at social media requires a great deal of leisure time. And money – you need a computer, high-speed internet and a mobile device contract. While this may seem standard in the US, Europe and Japan… it’s a relatively elite lifestyle that is well beyond the means of many people in lower classes (i.e., blue collar factory workers) and those in developing countries.
Social media influencers are forming a digital elite caste. image:Ben
The jet set cool hunters, the stay at home moms, the hotshot academics, the established company owners and execs who can delegate the tedious work to others, and the rockstar freelancers who can afford time to frolic in the social media playground are getting a big head start.
The digital divide will increase. Those who have social media-inspired communications and networking skills will get the pick of the most desirable jobs and opportunities. The bands with the best Facebook and MySpace skills will triumph. The social media-savvy recruiters and PR guys will trump the less-connected ones.
Those who can’t efficiently hook anything up using social media will become a kind functionally illiterate, second-class citizen… taking the “leftover” opportunities that the well-connected digital elite don’t want.
Social Media Can Be Like Drugs
Marijuana and psychedelic drugs can sometimes be healthy and beneficial tools when explored by intelligent users – allowing them to piece together new thoughts in the mind, transcend limits and metaprogram new behavioral imprints. But when used by less intelligent beings, they can disrupt and even destroy people’s personal and professional lives…
Social media can also be a passive, indulgent, demotivating pastime. image: 1ncognito
Just as some people get hooked on drugs — lost in a haze of sensation and color — people can become unhealthily addicted to social media… abusing it in a passive and senseless manner.
Social media addiction can ruin people’s professional productivity. Especially if they have a desk job that doesn’t involve much personal interaction. It’s really hard to get excited about counting beans compared to the never-ending candy buffet layed out by Twitter and StumbleUpon. Social media can also disrupt family lives… when teenagers skip dinner to withdraw to the glow of the monitor… or when a digitally-obsessed dad comments on blogs all day long, rather than giving his young kids enough attention.
Successful adaptation to the social media reality involves becoming a conscious, highly discriminating consumer-producer. Plus heaps of self-discipline. Some people will develop this kind of agility and prosper, others will be content to use social media as an addictive “boob tube” of petty distractions.
What’s Your Vision of the Future?
Is social media the greatest thing ever, or is it an over-hyped waste of time? What exactly is social media preparing us for? How is it causing us to evolve (or to degenerate)? How has it impacted your own personal consciousness and cognition?
And… how do you think a digital advanced, social-media connected future society will be different than the one we live in now?
I’m itching to figure this out… so please leave your insights in the comments below!
Get a FREE Website Evaluation!
Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.