As a Performancing reader, you probably blog. You probably have social networking profiles, too, with several friends and groups. Most likely, you are on Twitter, and you exchange short messages with friends and contacts. What are these web apps anyway? They’re social media, right? But what’s underneath social media?
I’d say we have social networks as the foundation of social media. By a social “network” I don’t mean Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace. Those are actually just the mediums that facilitate social networking. Social networks are actual people who know each other, and who talk to each other. In the olden days, people networked by writing letters, posting on bulletin boards, and calling on the telephone. People even met face to face (imagine that!). Later on, we had online services, email, IRC, forums, and the like. Of course, email is a staple, and has become a de facto standard in communicating online.
This is a realization I just had quite recently. Maybe as someone whose job involves social media, I get engrossed in using these online applications everyday that I don’t realize the foundations that are more important. I only see skin-deep. I usually become so focused on using the application rather than connecting with the other people who use the app. I’m no longer socially networking. But I’m just using the social networking app.
This is important, as I’ve also looked into social media apps I’ve used before, but have changed and evolved through the years. Take for instance ICQ. It was the first ever IM client and network I used, back in the ’90s. Now it’s evolved into some sort of social networking, blogging and online dating site. This makes me wonder what of Twitter? What of WordPress? What Facebook and MySpace? Five years down the road, we would probably see a different social media landscape.
But still the social networks would remain the same. People you know would still be people you know. Friends should still be friends (unless, of course, they are only friends by convenience, meaning you are friends because of shared social media apps). By then, perhaps the most basic social mediums would be those that survive the test of time. Like the good old telephone call. Or postcards. Or email.
And maybe one day, we would all get to meet face to face. How’s that for social media?