Saturday, 5 May 2012

Socialising in the Digital Age

As the technology industry continues to boom through the widespread adaptation of portable devices, consumer lifestyles are also going through a quiet but profound change.

The advent of globalization has significantly raised social interaction of individuals over long distances. A century ago, one would hardly find two friends who lived continents apart; the only instant method to communicate over long distances was telephone, available to a select few. Now, physical and virtual distances are reducing as science and technology have made the world a smaller place. International transport and communication costs have also dropped which in turn has promoted trade across the globe.

The last two decades saw the dawn of the internet and this has further revolutionized our lifestyles. Offices started using computers as paper lost its importance and we witnessed the bloom of the computer industry with computers and computer-related companies becoming the biggest in the world.

The internet crept up into our personal lives during the last decade. Although the development of online social media was spread over one and a half decade, it found its glory after the new millennium. Facebook, a social platform originally designed for university students became the largest social networking website in the world. Now, statistics suggest 47% of the American adults socialize over the internet, but this isn’t it. A life without an online presence is unimaginable, especially to the members of generation Z.

As technology evolves and we step into the Nano Age, things are becoming smaller and portable. Desktops evolved into laptops and laptops into palmtops. The average smartphone is described as ‘a phone with a mobile computing platform’ that allows users to take pictures, browse online plus having the traditional mobile phone features. All smartphones come with third-party applications which means you can download facebook on the go, upload and tag your friends’ pictures and see what other friends comment without ever thinking where to plug the cable in.

However, that is the past; pure mobile social networking is the new trend. These latest social networking platforms cannot be accessed using a traditional desktop. Instagram, a free photo-sharing application for iPhone and Android users only, is one example. Its growth has been explosive – as of March, 2012 Instagram had 27 million users.  Path, a similar application, caters the three largest mobile operating systems; iOS, Android and Blackberry.

This integration of computing devices in our lifestyles has, including other things, made small tasks easier, reduced workloads and made communication easier. Now, only time will tell what is yet to come.

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