In reflection of the SOPA/PIPA blackout movement on the Web, I started to think about all of the popular big brand name players on the Internet that I frequent on a daily basis. I really got to thinking more seriously about it when one Tweet in particular caught my eye:
I thought about what my reaction would be if I could no longer Google my horoscope, Facebook or Tweet at my friends, YouTube Jenna Marbles videos, write a blog post on WordPress or quickly Wiki who, in fact, did shoot JR (not that I watched Dallas as a kid or anything…). I mean, crap! If all of these sites just disappeared, would we all just be left in the dark, asking for some social media maven to save us and turn the lights back on?
Other tweets in relation to the SOPA/PIPA blackout cracked jokes at the idea that if Twitter shut down (and there was a hashtag #IfTheyShutTwitterDown trending), people would actually have to socialize offline (GASP!).
But seriously now. I wonder to what degree social media has affected us. It definitely rehabilitates the never-ending debate over whether social media has killed communication or revived it. Whereas some people find themselves socializing more and collaborating with others, others are found tied to their computer screen and too lazy to go for a walk outside.
If social media no longer existed (after being immersed in it for 10 years), a lot would certainly change:
1. Creativity loss
For one, creativity would be harder to come by. There would be less mash-ups, remixes and no more user-generated content. People wouldn’t have access to DIY websites or tools, and many would be scared of getting a lawsuit for borrowing or using content. In otherwise, you could kiss crowd-sourcing goodbye.
2. A change in politics
Remember Obama’s campaign? Much of his support came through his social media campaigning, and who knows where he would be today without it! And what about the Occupy Movement and the protests in the Middle East? Both began with a single blog post and a tweet. Without social media, these movement may never have happened. Perhaps there would be less people power and more corporate and governmental control. Historians would be writing whole other story.
3. Less Lives Saved
Social media has, surprisingly, shown users just how far it can go to save lives across the globe. Social media saviours (users participating in an online social cause to better the world and humankind), would no longer have their place at Free Rice to donate food, there would be less of a chance to find an organ donor without the help of Twitter, and less monetary funds would be supplied through social media platforms towards the Haiti, China and Japan earthquakes.
4. More patience would be required
Let’s be honest: how many of you have freaked out over someone not replying to you within 5 minutes of sending a text? And how many saw a text sent to you but didn’t reply in time, only to send a response a few hours later with the “Oh sorry, I just got your message now” excuse? I knew it!
For 10 years we have been socialized into becoming instantly-gratified human beings, what with the ability to access the Internet on any portable device from any location (as long as your wireless connection is working). As a result, we have become more impatient with one another when someone doesn’t respond in time. On the opposite end, however, others have put less of an emphasis on timely responses.
5. No more stalking
Without social media, we would no longer have access to each others’ accounts (Facebook in particular), thus social media users would see a drastic drop in stalking statistics. We would no longer be asking ourselves, “I wonder if Bobby still looks as cute as he did in kindergarten” or “I wonder where Mary went to for vacation and if she is home now and if I can ‘coincidentally’ meet her at the club she mentioned in her Facebook status…” Yikes. Let’s just say communication would be a lot less
entertaining intense (and perhaps safer!).
All in all, a world without social media is a different one indeed. Let’s just hope all goes well with the information blackout on the web, and that SOPA and PIPA will continue to allow us to treasure the social media evolution that lies so near and dear to our hearts… and at our finger tips.
Long live the social web!
Photo credit: http://gizmodo.com