Who uses social media?
Since its conception, social media has imploded into a massive global phenomena utilized by billions. The pandemic effect of this technological social tool is far-reaching in scope. It is by no means limited to a certain class of people based on gender, ethnicity, or social class. No, in fact, almost every geographical region and its population thereof are associated, linked to, or know of social media. In my opinion, I liken social media to that of a “brand representative” or an “agency” so to speak, with its members as its clients. Social media serves a purpose and can hold many functions to its members, and members who seek that service (“platform”) to achieve their agenda. In naming a few examples of institutions and the type of individual or group who utilize the many forms of social media, I like to point out that social media is not exclusive to just “sharing” photos and networking. It is not limited or boxed in any capacity, it is pervasive in nature.
An example of those who use social media as a marketing tool:
Artists are beginning to capitalize on the immediacy and efficiency of social media as a forum to advocate and promote their craft, reaching millions of their followers in an instant. As stated by Jeff Bullas in an article he wrote on his website JeffBullas.com, “One of the world’s biggest music stars ignored the traditional mass media product launching process. She bypassed the “normal” mass media release of a radio campaign, multiple TV appearances and retail and consumer brand promotions. Instead she announced it on Instagram to her 8 million followers with the word “Surprise” and proceeded to launch the 14 songs and accompanying 17 videos on iTunes. It was a success and it exceeded the album downloads of the previous album which had used the traditional marketing model.”(JeffBullas.com)
In my opinion, this is a revelatory testimony. It attests to the American (or perhaps more precisely, Euro-American) culture of looking toward alternative means to save time…to be more efficient and productive, by circumventing the loopholes that “eat up” our time. Like the saying goes, “it’s not working harder, but smarter.” Or in the case of social media, “let social media represent you and do the work for you”. The artist did not have to go into the world to promote her album…the world via social media was brought to her.
An example of people of from all walks of the social strata represented by social media:
Prisoners have access to mobile devices in the prisons and jail houses of both the United States and United Kingdom which allows them to link onto social media forums like Facebook. In actuality, and to the determent of others, they can still (to some extent) from the confines of their cell freely express themselves and have “contact” with the outside world. According to an article James Rush on Mail Online, he stated “Javed Khan, chief executive of charity Victim Support, said: ‘If offenders are able to access Facebook from prison it makes a mockery of the idea that they are being punished and can be hugely distressing for the victims of their crimes. ‘We know some criminals have used social media to taunt their victims and attempt to intimidate witnesses, and it is essential that this kind of activity is prevented.’”(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2517941/Number-prisoners-caught-active-Facebook-accounts-doubles-year-Criminals-use-social-media-taunt-victims-attempt-intimidate-witnesses-charity-warns.html)
On this site http://prisoninmates.com/, you can actually be a pen pal with prison inmates. In fact, this is what their website has to say about their services:
“Prison Inmates Online is a directory that connects people through social networks along with inmates in US prisons. A prisoner & family support & information network. It’s a great place to find prison pen pals or write a prisoner. Sure you can write a prisoner here, lots of them in fact. But Prison Inmates Online is so much more. It’s a whole social community for family, friends, and pen pals of inmates to come and share their knowledge and experiences. Is a great place for people just getting started to educate themselves as well. Here are some fun things you can do here, create events, post in the inmate forums or prison forums about general prison talk, view inmate ads or inmate profiles, be an inmate advocate, write inmate letters, find pen pals, read other prison voices, and be a part of the PIO and PVO community.” (http://prisoninmates.com/)
In my opinion social media can raise a lot of questions as it sometimes has both social and political implications. In the case of prisoners accessing social media, are they really locked up from “freedom” away from society or are they just as connected as they were before? Or more? Do they now have a larger pool to prey from? Is this really a tool for the purpose of rehabilitation? How are the victims and survivors coping with this, do you think? Is it in their alienable rights for inmates to have certain privileges or were they forfeited once they committed a crime? It seems to me that the lines are blurred here in relation to social media and the prisoners who utilize it.
An example through statistics of social media used by all ages and its lack of ageism.
Every age is represented on social media platforms. What once use to be a space for the young has quickly diminished and evolved to be more inclusive of all bodies of people irrespective of their age. As a matter of fact the margin of younger vs. older users is a narrow one. Statistics now show that 18-29 year olds have an 89% usage rate of social media, while those of 30-49 years of age are at 72%, and the 50-60 year olds 60%, while 43% of 65 and plus individuals are present on social media. (JeffBullas.com)
In my opinion, the margin will eventually just close, I think. The “tech babies”, those who were born into this culture of social media and other technological advances in our modern day society, will eventually become the forbearer of social media. I believe everyone because of their proximity to those engaged in social media and the exposure to the exploitation of it in all forms of mass media and advertising will eventually become well versed and exposed in the language of social media, until something new encroaches on it.
An example how social media is used as a means to promulgate a political or religious message:
Terrorists have acculturated to the technological advances of the modern world. Arming themselves with a new type of weapon for social control and influence, they have framed their social agenda to facilitate the use of social media as a means to an end in exacting their plans. According to Laura Ryan, she stated in the National Journal, “Terrorist groups around the world have quickly learned how to manipulate the Web and social media, an invention of the West, against the West, and it is reshaping the war on terror.” She also quotes Weimann, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a professor at Haifa University in Israel, for what he stated in his published report called “New Terrorism and New Media, “… terrorist groups are using social-media sites—including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Flickr—to spread their propaganda and raise funds, as well as to recruit and train new members.
How many use social media?
To address this question I simply share the statistics on this from the graph and data I have gleaned over. It has become apparent to me though, that the real underlining question is, “How many don’t use social media?” Seems almost everyone or every facet of society somehow fashion themselves or capitalize on the use of social media.
Social Network Statistics Data
On eMarketer.com, it states that “Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates,” nearly one in four people worldwide will use social networks in 2013. The number of social network users around the world will rise from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion this year, an 18% increase. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion.” (http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Networking-Reaches-Nearly-One-Four-Around-World/1009976#sthash.hoMlybll.dpuf)