A bright social future

In this series of three blog posts, I have explored how technology can influence the future of social media, and the potential dark sides that can arise. What about the bright side, the reason “everyone” is using social media? There must be a reason social media has such an enormous growth rate. Social media adding positive value to people’s lives might just be the reason. What good might social media do for us in the future?

A study done on Facebook show us that status updates from friends on social media actually make us happier, because the emotions from positive status updates make a larger impact than the negative ones. Friends, empathy, speedy communication and keeping in touch with the world are also mentioned as positive things that comes with the use of social media. I personally believe that being able to stay in touch with people from all over the world is the number one benefit of social media. It feels good to know that I can keep contact with wonderful people that I meet as I go along. Like, how are those people I met on vacation five years ago and what are they doing now?

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Social media connecting the world (Source: Friends International Center)

With future technology in mind, I wonder how my relationships with people I have met from around the world will develop. Perhaps developers of social media platforms will find a way to make it easier to stay in touch. Will there be reunions where you perhaps use Virtual Reality glasses to re-experience moments with those people? Being an international student in this particular moment of time, I would love for something like this to come true.

A part of something bigger

According to the Huffington Post, social media is not only about interacting with other people. They claim that newer generations like the millennials are craving to be part of a positive social impact on the world, by using social media to raise awareness on businesses corporate social responsibility. How good is that, if we can actually make the world a better place because of social media? Even the Arab Spring, a civil uprising in the Middle East to force dictators from power, was partly sparked by social media. Will social media be a future platform for the people to establish world peace, or maybe even prevent World War III? That would be a great example of how social media connect people worldwide.

The bright future

It is safe to assume that social media is here to stay. It is hard to predict how social media will be in the future, and how it will affect us. Considering how much closer we are today than just 15 years ago, how connected will we be in the future? Will we share thoughts instead of status updates in 2050? I hope that the human race pushes it in the right direction, where it will do good for humanity. I hope that social media will bring us closer together, also in a way that encourages us to interact more in real life. I hope I will take part of the continued amazing journey that social media has in store. What do you hope for social media to become?

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The dark side of social evolution

In my last blog post I explored how technology can affect social media in the future, but how can social media affect us as humans? The human brain has evolved steadily for the last fifty thousand years. Is our evolution having a hard time keeping up with the development of modern technology? According to scientists, the technology now grows exponentially.

Throughout history, humans developed different languages for interpersonal communication. Now, we can communicate through thin air. We know it can have side effects, with people being stuck on their phones – but we tend to make fun of it. What about serious side effects from social media, which could negatively alter the psychology behind how humans interact in the future?

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Phones stealing attention (Source: Odyssey)

Sir Terry Pratchett, backed by educational psychologist Dr. Kairen Cullen, claims that social media and texting could harm a child’s interpersonal skills. Pratchett states that kids’ interaction on social media, as a surrogate for human interaction, affects their ability to write proper sentences and worsens their behavior.

“If you have a wide vocabulary you can think different thoughts. It stops you getting frustrated. If you have the words to identify exactly what you mean, you can get your message across and I’m sure this is linked to rough behaviour.” (Sir Terry Pratchett, 2012)

What will happen when this generation grows up to take a real place in society, working and communicating with people from other generations? Will this trend continue, affecting the generations after, in increasingly negative ways? It’s hard to imagine what human interaction will be like in the future, with the (supposed) negative psychological development that is occurring within future generations. Perhaps the world will be a less social place, with more social media interaction.

Being Human

An article from Forbes presents another scary subject: Is social media, in this case Facebook, tampering with our natural way to express ourselves? The writer mentions the “like” button on Facebook – and the lack of a dislike button. Human beings need to express ourselves in different ways, not only positive. Will social media platforms developed to only be friendly, alter our social patterns? Research even claims that social networks are becoming increasingly hostile. What problems can arise from this in the long term, and in the future in general?

It is not just our brains

According to scientists, many people may develop “text neck”. Billions of people are using cell phone devices on the planet, essentially in poor posture” (Hansraj, 2014). This may lead to early spinal degeneration, and even headaches, neurological problems and heart disease (Hansraj, 2014; Mercola, 2014). It is safe to assume that social media is to blame for a lot of cell phone usage, leading to this. Will this degenerate us, or will we be “saved” by microchips in our brains replacing phones?

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Connected Brains (Source: Mehmet Doğramacı)

Social media in general is of great benefit to us, and the future might make it even better. It is important for the human race to be enlightened, and see every aspect of social media – even the dark side. With that perspective on it, we might save ourselves from getting lost.

What dark sides of social media have you encountered? What dark sides do you think will arise in the future of social media? Please give me your opinion.

 

How social can we be?

I am not going to dig into the history of social media, as most of you already know it. From calling each other on landline telephones, to becoming updated on what all our friends are doing through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social medias – just with this little thing in our pockets. Both the number of users on social media, and the technological development of its different interfaces, has had an enormous growth rate. Therefore, I guess we can expect a lot of new inventions and breakthroughs in this field that affects most lives in developed (and developing) countries.

Future Technology

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two interesting future topics on everyday technology, which I personally believe will affect social media in many ways. One of them just had a big breakthrough – and with all the fuss around it, you cannot have missed it: Pokémon Go. The game is probably not a big technological advancement in the field of Augmented Reality, but a large step forward for the platform when it comes to popularity and utility. What the game does is simple, and the basic feature of AR: Adding extra layers to the real world – which in this case are these little creatures called Pokémon. Although Pokémon Go is not a social media platform, it is really socializing people, according to Gavin Fernando – because players meet each other when they are out playing. Is that what future social media platforms will aim for us to do? Connect people in real life, instead of holding us captured in cyberspace? Now, something like that would really be innovative.

What’s even more interesting is AR technology within “Smart Glasses”. These neat wearables, are glasses that come with a small see-through display to let you interact with the world and the internet in a much more immersive way than before. Some even have cameras and/or tilt sensors. God knows what they will be equipped with in the future. Wareable quotes the following: “AugmentedReality.org claims that shipments of smart glasses will hit 1 billion around 2020, surpassing shipments of mobile phones by 2025.” Imagine the possibilities. If this is only somehow correct, we can see enormous changes in how people interact on social media the next 10 years – the only limitation is the imagination of app-makers. Will we communicate by thoughts? Will we be able to go for virtual walks in parks, located in different continents, together?

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Source: flickr

Taking it to the next level, there is Virtual Reality. This is more than just adding a layer to the reality. You can put on glasses with video-screens inside and a headset, to experience a completely new “reality”. Facebook recently bought one of the leading products out there, Oculus Rift. They claim they will continue developing it for gaming purposes, as well as social networking. This can lead to a very interesting way of people socializing in the future. Perhaps the future version of Facebook will have a virtual world where you can meet your friends and communicate in different ways? Who really knows what VR will be like?

So, how social can we be?

I personally believe the future of social media is interesting, scary and exciting at the same time. Will those of us who choose to participate in social media eventually get closer, by finding new ways of interacting in the real world? Or will we all just be satisfied with communicating virtually using the technology of tomorrow? What do you think?