Last week we delved into the dangerous territory of whether social media has impacted our lives in a positive or negative way. Is social media – as distinguished neuroscientist and author Baroness Susan Greenfield supposes – changing our brains?
It’s not an easy argument to tackle, nor is it one that a single person can decide a definitive answer for. As with any issue that is modern and that has effects that are largely societal, it’s not an argument played out in black and white. I couldn’t possibly say for certain whether social media is changing our brains. She would know better than I.
But asking whether it does, draws light to another issue: the breadth of social media’s popularity, its divisiveness, and its ability to incite passion in people. When it comes to social media, there’s little room for apathy – when talking on it, or about it.
There have been numerous criticisms of major technological breakthroughs throughout history – TV, radio; anything that works its way into the family home – all of which have undoubtedly changed society. Change isn’t a negative, though, and to be against all change you could quite easily be left behind.
According to a We Are Social study, there were approximately 2 billion active social media accounts worldwide in January 2015. That’s a lot of brains (potentially) changing, and perhaps that’s a transformation you don’t want to miss.
People are increasingly living their lives – at least to some extent – digitally, and businesses are increasingly trading online. Social media is the natural place for the facilitation of both of those. It’s a social space and it’s a marketplace.
We are masters
There are negatives – the level of privacy that we have, the potential long-term effects of diminished physical interaction, the rise of verbally addressing hashtags. But it’s wrong to think of it as a bogeyman controlling us. We are its master. If you’re worried about social media changing your brain, perhaps you might be taking too passive an approach to it.
It comes down to the question of not how social media is changing us, but who it is being changed by and how we can adapt our usage to benefit us.
We’ve already seen organic reach all but deplete on some channels, while there are those that are still growing and evolving. To accommodate both, our usage habits have to evolve. Trends change and so should we if we want to be a part of them.
“Adaptability is the key to our individuality,” said Baroness Greenfield at the Barbican last week. And she may not appreciate the application, but it’s also key to succeeding on social media. You have to be aware of changing trends and how you can use them to your advantage.
So, yes, social media might have changed the way we live, but to get the most out of it we have to be aware of how we are changing it. Social media is constantly changing in order to better serve what it was first created for: connecting people.
As a business, as a marketer, as a person, that’s undoubtedly a huge positive.