Has Social Media Changed Human Beings?

Geek!This is Patrick John OMahony’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Let me introduce myself. I am Pat O’Mahony – and I am a PRE Baby Boomer. I was born 64 years ago in 1944, during World War II. Most people consider “Baby Boomers” as “a person born between 1946 and 1964, following World War II”. So officially, I am NOT a Baby Boomer. Admittedly, not by much – but I got here ahead of them.

I see the NEW Social Media as an old progression and continuation of what makes us “Human Beings”. In my lifetime, I have seen a lot of things change. Lately, I have been studying and researching the manifestation of the New “Social Media”. The proponents say that New “Social Media” will change everything. Actually, I think that they are understating the case by several degrees of magnitude.

We not only have to be social, belong somewhere – we have to interact and communicate with other people. We do this, just to be Human Beings. It is what makes us human.

First, let us look at the essence of a “Human Being”. Above all else, “Human Beings” are social creatures belonging to a tribe or group. People need to be with people, preferably with people just like ourselves. We all know that “no man is an island”, that a former punishment was to be “a man without a country” and that even today, one of most extreme forms of punishment is solitary confinement.

Second, “Human Beings” communicate. They communicate like crazy. I remember reading about anthropologists suggesting that the reason we are human and not apes, living in the trees, is that we can communicate with language. It makes sense.

Third, “Human Beings” have always been inventing ways to communicate. We have invented hundreds of verbal languages. Thousands of years ago, before writing, our ancestors drew exquisite pictures of bison and horses on cave walls to communicate (with the Gods or with other Human Beings, we do not know). We “Human Beings” invented writing, pictographs, ideographs, signs and symbols. Do you want to express a word, a thing, an idea or a process? We can do it!

Fourth, in every aspect, we invent something and then we make it better (and better). In every way that we can measure, our communication systems are getting better. In speed, our communication systems have been improving. From early telegraphs to today’s digital magic, the speed of communications has been getting faster (and faster). In bringing the communicators closer together, the barriers between the two has been decreasing. From the early Post Office letters, to the early telephone, to today’s digital and visual phone calls, the “media” has been getting us closer and closer to the real thing.

This new “Social Media” is nothing new. This “Social Media” is just the latest chapter in mankind’s ability to communicate, in mankind’s improvement in his communication systems. Sure, some of the old ways to communicate have been superseded by this faster, “closer” method. Newspapers are the some of the first to fall – along with TV stations, and the music industry.

But, overall, our ability to communicate is changing: faster, closer and changing for the better.

Yes, some of the communicators will even write and talk about sex on the internet. Sex is also one of the things that make us human. But that is for another essay.