Home > Andrew Andrews > Andrew Andrews responds to “what does Social Media mean to me?”

Andrew Andrews responds to “what does Social Media mean to me?”

LinkedIn lunches in (2007-0032 0084)
Image by tychay via Flickr

When I was asked this question a week ago, my split second response was the single word “Community”.

I’ve had a week to think deeply about why I was so quick to respond this way and formulate this blog.

Looking up the word Community in the Oxford online dictionary gives this definition.

community (com|mu¦nity)



(plural communities)

1 a group of people living together in one place, especially one practising common ownership:a community of nuns
a particular area or place considered together with its inhabitants:a rural community local communities
(the community) the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society:preparing prisoners for life back in the community
[as modifier] denoting a worker or resource designed to serve the people of a particular area:community health services
2 [usually with modifier] a group of people having a religion, race , profession, or other particular characteristic in common:Montreal ‘ s Italian community the scientific community
a body of nations or states unified by common interests:[in names] :the European Community
3 [mass noun] the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common:the sense of community that organized religion can provide
[in singular] a similarity or identity:the law presupposes a community of interest between an employer and employees
joint ownership or liability:the community of goods
4 Ecologya group of interdependent plants or animals growing or living together in natural conditions or occupying   a specified habitat:communities of insectivorous birds

When one reflects on the definition, the intrinsic relationship between Social Media and Community becomes all so clear.

Our Primate ancestors existed in tribes where the individuals live together and share their responsibilities in a communal fashion, exactly as the definition states.

Primates instinctively were aware then that their very existence would be compromised if they didn’t  exist in communal tribes. As individuals living alone they would perish, but together they gave themselves the best chance of existing and thriving against the odds driven by the destructive forces of nature.

Over the span of many eons humans have evolved from their ape ancestors, but one of the constants that has remained through our evolution is the principal of Community.

If you look around our global society, Communities exist everywhere, in many forms and at many levels. There are myriads of networks of people from ranging our schools, sporting clubs, charity associations, office social clubs, professional associations, peak industry bodies, commercial and community media (traditionally print, radio and TV), unions, and so on.

Our democratic Government structure ranging from our Local  Council, State, Federal and ultimately the United Nations are highly evolved and are all forms of Community.

There are limitless examples of Communities across the World.

In fact, the amazing interconnected-ness of our world would not be necessary or required if it weren’t for the fundamental primal desire of the human condition being the need to exist in Communities and the need to Communicate.

Referring again to the Oxford Online Dictionary, the origins of the verb Communicate step from the early 16th century: from Latin communicat- ‘shared’, from the verb communicare, from communis.

Communities wouldn’t exist without Communication and vice versa. Its no surprise then, that in the English language that these words are prefixed by the same seven letters both derived from the word Common.

Communication and Communities have existed since the dawn of time.

First the first time in the evolution of human kind, our Communities have truly become a democratic global human ecosystem, where possibilities created by Social Media are endless and opportunities are infinite.

It is very clear to me that the fundamental principals of Community will never change, however its interpretation , application and impact to our Global society has yet to be fully understood, nor has been fully realised.

So you may ask, what have these primal norms got to do with Social Media?

Its amazing that the World Wide Web is only 20 years old, and Social Media in its present form has existed for less than 10 years.

facebook was launched from a Harvard University dorm room in February 2004, and since then has generated these formidable statistics;

* More than 400 million active users
* 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
* Average user has 130 friends
* People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook

The elegance and success of facebook can be traced back to two fundamental primal roots, that being the insatiable human need to exist within one or more Communities and interact through Communication.

As a community networking and communication platform, then its not surprising to see how facebook has so rapidly become a global phenomenon.

facebook is but one of many Social Media platforms, twitter and linkedin are currently also predominant platforms. These will evolve over time and no doubt be superceded with new technologies and services leap frogging over these Social Media market leaders.

Before the advent of the Internet and the revolution of Social Media, our communities were largely limited by our geographic world. The immutable laws of physics of time and space limited our access to our Community networks and limited our abilities to Communicate with each other.

This need to form Communities and to Communicate has sometime had disasterous consequences. If power is knowledge, limitations in terms of distance and time resulted in information being hitherto previously concentrated in the hands of too few.  Our history has shown dire cases where propaganda media machines being dominated by treacherous individuals or groups having possibly fatal consequences.  The many Wars fought over the centuries are cases in point.

Now that we have both virtual Communities and instantaneous Communication enabled through Social Media networks, we are now able to interact with each other on a global basis in real time. Like minded individuals can form groups and collaborate in virtual real time.

If we have had such drastic changes to our society in the last 10 years, what profound changes will the next 10 or 5 years bring?

This is an exciting point in time in the evolution of our global Communities.

We are but only at the beginning of a very long and exciting journey with Social Media.

-Andrew Andrews, 18th July 2010.

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  1. July 18, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Whilst 400 million is a vast number it really only encompasses the “civilized” world and ignores those that really could do with having access to “social networking” , those that still do it “old school”.

    It does allow us to form communities but at what cost ? we are able to interact with virtual anonymity and loose whatever social skills we are supposed to have gained by being members of our local communities.

    The ability to share vast amount of information almost instantaneously is amazing; but shouldn’t we be trying to spend more time with those that could do with face to face contact than sitting in front of computers or phones ?

    • July 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

      good points jason.
      its quite impressive what some third world countries have done (in some areas) to introduce modern technologies. but it’s true i cant see the value for them in “poking each other” or “swopping CV’s” etc. they would be more concerned about good medicine and education. hopefully over time through platforms like facebook (mass media) can be used in a ore effective way to help raise awareness. i know the founder (mark) has already made it clear he would like to see it travel this way. the “causes” application is certainly one way but this must evolve as people tire quickly with things being pushed on to them. there is a fine art to engage and interact with word of mouth encouragement.

      and you are right regarding face to face. i like to think of it as “all options”. im a very social person. but i have an intimate “core group of friends”. facebook gives me the opportunity to reach wider and further than i would normally on a day to day basis. i guess it feeds my appetite.

      that said, i know some people who base their social life on facebook and that can be alarming. or not. for sure in some cases it is a worry but in other communities – such as the disabled community – online can be seen as positive. it gives them a world they never previously had real exposure to. and that is a good thing.

      i do think we need to stop turning a blind eye to some of the impacts that social media is having, and start educating in a far more proactive, positive and practical way. i have previously blogged that I think it is part of corporate social responsibility – and government. and it is.. we need education around this.

      to end… may i ponder that we have troubles at our boarders because all the fotos on facebook are enticing everyone over to a fun, exciting, beautiful place to live?? could be a fact. just a thought. ya know. xc

  1. July 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

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