It is said that Change is the only constant. Today the world is changing faster than we change clothes. We all have seen it evolve everyday into a better and more comfortable tomorrow. With the advent of Internet, digitization has speed ed up this process and the most addicted platform of the generation – Social Media is seeing the most change happening.
The Start –
Let us think over the change digitization and particularly social media has seen in India in recent past. The rapid change in people’s behavior, attitudes & preferences towards the use of the upcoming & popular networking apps is phenomenal. In India, internet started with the email, was initially not very active, and was used with funky email ids like –firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and their girlfriends’ names as passwords. There was a time when me and my friends used emails quite frequently but only for social & story forwards. With social media, I remember my first the high school website- Orkut during my school time back in 2007. That initial excitement, the scraps as messages, the testimonials as messages and all the addiction. By spending uncountable hours there, I still give credit to Orkut for my quicker typing speed. Orkut that time was particularly a bit insecure when it came to privacy. Inspite of this, it was typically very popular among students/ young urbans, with like-minded people forming communities, reconnecting with friends, etc.
The new Big Daddy in town – Facebook!
After about 3-4 years on enjoying with Orkut, our generation promptly shifted to Facebook. With more internet and computer penetration in India, Facebook saw an exponential increase in number of downloads & active users, while Orkut’s popularity started fading out and the statuses, likes, shares, groups, tags, pages became the new testimonials, communities, scraps. There was swift transition of people from Orkut to Facebook, and the new fancy interface seemed to be more appealing. For me, Facebook was a very convenient medium for chatting, networking & fun, and I used to look forward to spend time on it. I believe the one thing that Facebook has done right is the efficient & timely user engagement; things change every day and so do the wants of the users. They are very difficult to please and seeing/doing/having the same experience every day bores them.
With having nothing much initially, Facebook has been continuously updating the interactive games, stories and engagements which always brought a sense of both curiosity & addiction among users. People were more proud of the farmer that they were in Farmville, their achievements in online poker than their job. Over the last 8 years, we have seen Facebook moving to user engagements, page content & advertising done by almost all companies today. Right from company/brand advertisements to global news and from movie reviews to personal updates, all is right available on any social media. Facebook used to be and still is like a one-stop solution to all you currently needed to know around you.
There is much more to come..
After Facebook, there were hundreds of social media/networking apps & platforms available – WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, snapchat, Instagram, to name a few of them and people are very proactive in experimenting out those. Today, with everybody and their grandmothers onboard, WhatsApp is the one-time stop for instant communication across the world. The smartphone penetration has been increasing, it has an astounding 20 Cr active users in India. WhatsApp has more than half Internet users on-board, along with several thousand being added every single day.
There is no doubt that social media platforms are a lot more now than they once were. But all that has led to cluttering of information, and so finding the right content becomes difficult. Personally speaking, I used to find the quantity & quality of posts interesting on Facebook about 3 years ago, but now with my friends list becoming more than double, along with extensive advertising & promotions & multiple articles/ videos, I end up spending a lot of time browsing through irrelevant stuff which often gets frustrating. And primarily hence Facebook is becoming less appealing in front of others.
Then there was Twitter – tool for sharing information, which even the founder still doesn’t know how it became so popular. Another one was LinkedIn, a professional platform, used today mostly for finding/ referring jobs & businesses. For now, WhatsApp is the most well-known & most used app in the world, but with the changing times it could be the next Orkut or Facebook in the near Future, who knows!
The future looks crazy though..
I feel good to know that I am one of those of the lucky generation folks for having a chance to see the best of both worlds- pre-& post digitalization. The visible shift is clearly seen from being on the ground all day to being glued to your phones/computers 24*7. There definitely are perks of Social media – long lost acquaintances are reconnected. My mom herself got in touch with her many old friends through Facebook & other mediums. And now she ends up spending more time on social media than me. Oh look at the Irony! At the same time, I do pity this generation’s kids – who spend their studying time on computers and their playing time on their phones much more than on the playgrounds. This change seen in just a matter of 8 years itself says how much more there is to come. All we can do is just wait and be surprised with the unexpected that is to come.