Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Online social networks changed communication forever

Online social networks allow people to know details about other people's lives in a most discreet way

Online social networks are here to stay; they've been created and are so deep into people's lives already, that they will only grow to develop new applications and original ways for people to instantly communicate with friends, family and acquaintances from all around the world.

If Internet, e-mail, chats and instant messaging had changed people's habits, online social networks have absolutely revolutionized people's daily routines, the way they communicate with each other and the way they find out about how everyone's doing on a particular moment. Today, someone won't call a friend, they will send a message through Facebook…

Online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and occupy big portions of people's time every day, whether it is at the office, in their house or in their spare times.

A recent study found out that the under 35 year olds are totally addicted to these social networks; for example, 39% of Twitter users and 27% of Facebook users under 35 years old check their Twitter and Facebook accounts, respectively, more than ten times a day.

These networks offer activities that people can still do sitting in front of their computers, but that represent free time and relax for their minds, as well as contact with all their friends, acquaintances and family, with whom they can share pictures, exchange messages, have conversations, share opinions, watch videos, listen to their favorite songs, play games, etc.

It's a common space in which people feel that they're not alone when they actually are. They just have a virtual space that they can access any time they want, as long as they have an Internet connection. It's gone so far, that currently a lot of people spend their biggest online social network time in their mobile, rather than in front of the computer. People like the immediacy with which they can show their family and friends where they are or what they just bought, by simply taking a picture with their cell phone and then sending it in seconds…

These networks have an interactive essence that makes them appear as an omnipresent and endless conversation between millions of people all over the world. There's a reason why Twitter's slogan is "Join the conversation"…It's become an addiction that makes people want to publish and share with everyone what they're thinking or doing, or what just happened to them at their office, even what they're eating at the moment or that they're hungry and want chocolate really badly.

Online social networks have made people addicted to know and look into each other's lives: they can see pictures, find out about what others did on the weekend, see the news about the end of a relationship…It's a more discreet way of taking a glance at what goes on with the world and with other people's lives, without asking and without anyone knowing that you where interested in somebody's affairs.

These networks have also created a debate about the risks of loosing privacy when everyone publishes everything without thinking about the consequences. Furthermore, the debate has even reached the security risks that this information disclosure represents. But that'll be good for a future post.

For now, let's just say that online social networks have widen people's opportunities of keeping in touch with their acquaintances from all around the world, and that they represent a great tool for letting everyone know about a business, an idea or an opinion. It's just a matter of being careful and wise about the use of information.

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