Facebook Is Lexington, Twitter Is Concord
Social Networking has changed everything. Anyone who is still not convinced of this truth either has been hiding under a very large rock for the last 5 years…or they’re disagreeing with you just to be contrary. People communicate today in ways like never before. If the internet was the most important shift in communication since the printing press then social networking is the digital age’s equivalent of the first newspaper. It is difficult to understand exactly what the communication landscape is going to look like once all of the dust settles, but I think it’s safe to say that it will be vastly different than the static one-way communications of the twentieth century.
The things that tend to change the world are usually misunderstood or even taken for granted at the time. Social media is no different. The brilliance of Facebook and Twitter isn’t their complex nature, quite the opposite. The simplicity is what takes people by surprise. People don’t comprehend Twitter when they first sign up. “What’s the point” is the question I get most from friends registering for the microblogging service. These are intelligent people who simply don’t understand. I can’t blame them. I didn’t get it at first either. To be honest, I’d be lying if I told you I completely understand it now.
It’s okay not to fully recognize what social media means for the future. The common Virginia militiaman could not fathom how his actions and those of his countrymen would change the world in 1776. He was probably just mad at the redcoats for burning his crops and looking for a little payback. Only a handful of visionaries in Philadelphia had a glimmer of recognition.
Okay, okay…maybe Facebook and Twitter aren’t as important as the founding of a democracy that has survived for 200 years as a beacon of hope to the world (cue patriotic music), but it is undeniable that they have triggered a fundamental change in the way people interact with each other. History has a funny habit of changing things in ways we don’t expect.