Ask 900 Internet experts about the future of social networks, and its not so surprising that most are bullish on the future. Eighty-five percent say the Internet has mostly been a positive force on their social world in developing personal friendships, marriage and other relationships.
Positive outcomes far outweigh the negative outcomes, according to the new Pew Research Center study: The Future of Online Socializing. The short-term outlook is especially bright, much brighter than the June study that asked the public what they expect to see by the year 2050.
Highlights Show Social Connectivity Makes The World A Better Place.
• The Internet provides a global reach to find people with similar interests.
• Social media has boosted communication, creation, and the cultivation of friendships.
• Many cited personal examples, including meeting their spouses online.
• The continuing press to invent human interfaces, including holographic displays.
• Rapidly expanding bandwidth and security inventions to handle information.
• Trusted storehouses of information that allow for better decision making.
Some of their glimpses into the future are already coming to fruition. Scientists are already to expand their reach through the use of social media. Some nonprofit organizations have increased their ability to raise funds for a fraction of the investment. And in a relatively short time, television will unlikely ever be the same.
Shadows Show Social Connectivity Has An Eventual Dark Side.
Of course, every invention has a darker side, including shallower relationships, time famine, privacy issues, and the self-induced silo effect. On the individual level, they noted a change in how reputations are made, perceived, and remade. On the organizational level, they mean adjusting to the pulse of visible public opinion.
For many experts, privacy tends to be the biggest concern despite their own exhilaration of being able to track public sentiment. Some, not part of the study, freely suggest that paranoia isn't paranoia when someone is attempting to track your every move. Even spookier, perhaps, is the idea that many people willfully give up privacy for the smallest of favors like the moniker of being a virtual mayor.
The Future For The Online Communicator.
We generally lean toward the most optimistic viewpoint, with social media eventually fueling productivity — places that are much more attuned to making mutual progress over mutual popularity. And therein lies the path most firms will be faced with crossing in as little as two years as opposed to ten years.
There are three primary paths currently being employed in social media. One leads toward integrated communication where mass communication is augmented by organic relationships built from mutual respect and validity of ideas.
The second path panders to mutual popularity, which can best be described as a furious back-scratching session of those who hope to propel themselves upward by creating an abundance of shallow relationships based on nothing more than the ownership of cowboy boots.
And the third, of course, is to create the illusion of popularity, buying up friends, followers, and retweets for pennies on the plug.
I don't know about you, but we're stuck on the first one. It takes a little longer to create a following, but the people are real.