Social media is growing up
For the last blog post, I decided to look at the social media in a different perspective. Ten years ago no one would believe that you will be obsessed with your phone. How about ten years from now? What would social media be like then?
Looking back, it’s clearer to see the early 2000s as social media’s infancy. Sure, the conception and development of the idea can be traced to early-internet connectors like BBSes or AOL’s emphasis on member profiles and chatting, but it wasn’t until Facebook rolled out during the middle of the last decade that we had entered what could be said to be a new era of human communication. Between February 2005 and August 2006, the use of social networking sites by young people jumped from 9 percent to 49 percent; today, Facebook says it has more than 1.35 billion active users. To say social media has grown into being the backbone of the internet is an understatement; at this point, it feels like the backbone of society. But is anyone still impressed that they can keep up with Aunt Judy through the computer? What’s the next step?
As a social media user, would you be curious about what will social media look like in ten years? It’s fun to anticipate how these platforms will evolve in the future. Here are some popular predictions that you may be interested to see:
- A Less Diversified Community
Amy Miller, a comedian and marketing director, sees the shift toward the impersonal and the anonymous continuing. “Seven to ten years ago, we were like, ‘Oh my God, so I can just, like, be friends with my fourth-grade sweetheart?’ Connecting to people from your past actually felt like meeting a celebrity,” she said. “In the near future, we will use social in order to completely avoid or delete our past.”
In other words, we used to be impressed with how many people we could share our lives with, and now we’re more interested in limiting what we share with who.
Jen Goldberg, a digital strategist for ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, agrees. “We’ll continue to see a trend towards micro-communities and one-to-one or one-to-a select few sharing over the one-to-an-anonymous many,” she said. “We’ve cycled away from blogging and broadcasting, towards anonymous sharing and small group messaging.”
- We won’t be reading long texts any more
People have also clearly shown that they like looking at pictures and short bursts of texts, not reading Twitter novels or your self-involved Facebook notes. While Facebook remains the world’s largest social network, the fastest growth is happening on Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram. Tumblr’s active user base grew by over 120 percent this year, Instagram is incredibly popular among teens, and Snapchat has gotten so big it rejected an offer to sell to Facebook for $3 billion. A new era of photo-reading is approaching.
- Apple Watch is just a start
“When our eyes are a video camera, our ears a microphone, and we are wearing clothes with code in the fibers, we’ll likely share our lives on a biorhythmic scale.”
Here’s something to terrify you: Social media is going to become more and more invasive and more and more a part of our bodies. Last year, Facebook paid billions for Oculus VR, a company gearing up to mass-produce virtual-reality headsets . In May, Google Glass became widelyavailable, if not affordable for most. This means that soon, you’ll never have to not be looking at a computer.
“It’ll be like Minority Report without jetpack policemen,” said McNayr and Beard. “Everything pushes to targeted video content, localized/personalized/contextualized on truly ubiquitous content screens. Ads, awareness, content, relationships, communication, meetups IRL. Devices fall away—everything you touch is an interface for your communication and content workflows/apps.”
Dominguez is less optimistic: “In ten or 15 years social media will probably just be a 3D hologram of a Coca-Cola bottle angrily shouting at us to buy Coca-Cola, then rewarding us with a meme .GIF if we buy Coca-Cola, or shocking us with a high-voltage electrical current if we don’t.”