July 18, 2016
The UEFA Cup was going on recently, so of course we had games streaming in the background at our office. A group of us were in an impromptu meeting and missed Portugal’s goal against Iceland, and the replay. Oh no! The first thing I did was jump on YouTube. In the four minutes (or less) that lapsed between the goal and my search, footage of the goal had already been uploaded. Estimated time since upload: three minutes.
I’ve written a handful of pieces discussing what social media really is. It’s not just a handful of websites and apps. It’s the current state of the internet! Nearly every website and app has a social component. You create a profile, you interact with others, you share content, post comments, leave reviews, etc. It’s all public. It’s all social. But is there any media today that isn’t social?
I missed the live coverage of an event held in France, so I instantly looked it up on YouTube. A massive event in a physical location was being reported on, and streamed online and on TV. Then I watched it on a separate website. And these games aren’t the only things that get shared! Every news outlet, every late night entertainment show, every concert, every story, and every event gets shared and distributed through television, radio, friends, and followers. All media is social.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s something we all intrinsically know, even if we haven’t articulated it as such. Instead of watching news stories on TV at 6 o’clock, we check them online. Instead of staying up to watch Jimmy Fallon, we catch the highlights on Facebook (which generally take you to YouTube). Every publisher from your local newspaper to major blogs to The New Yorker are online. Even radio is social, getting you to call in and interact with hosts and web profiles! We can interact with people on all of these forms of media, from anywhere. The line between traditional media and social media isn’t blurred. It’s not non-existent. It’s all just media.
This might not be the first time you’ve thought about the transition, but it will be for most. Why is that? This isn’t a new concept. This happened the moment everyone under 50 got a smartphone. But saying all media is social, that it’s just media, is a new concept for the majority. Why?
Social media as a subset is barely a college student. The first formal social media website for non-developers was Six Degrees, launched in 1996 (a brilliantly applicable name, referring to the social theory that everyone is connected to each other within 6 degrees of separation). Social media by itself is barely a generation old! What’s happened is that interactive, internet-based social media has only recently (within the last decade) become a staple for how we interact with the world and each other. It’s only recently that social media became a giant gateway of opportunity for some, and a major paradigm shift for others.
About the time everyone finally said “Oh yeah, this is big and it’s here to stay,” the line between traditional and social media had dissolved. We’ve been so caught up on the first transition, with social media as this emerging concept, that we’ve more or less ignored the second, far more impactful movement. Everyone is connected in every way to everyone and every event and every thing from everywhere.
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