Social media is arguably the most important communication medium available to us today. From joining live conversations on Twitter, to sharing a in-joke between a group of friends on Instagram, social media is the communication medium that doesn’t look like it's going anywhere.
The key to social media's success however, is its ability to blend with other mediums - not totally replacing them, but amplifying their appeal. Take live-tweeting during a popular television show, or being able to share journalism with millions in real time.
Social media, one could argue, is an evolution of the traditional radio phone-in, or the simple internet forum where likeminded people could engage with one another, discussing things they share an interest in or opinion on. Take Facebook’s beginnings as a University campus forum, allowing students to connect.
A difference in social media however, is the sense of ownership of the conversation, as traditional gatekeeping moves towards idea sharing and access to information provided by people. This can have its downfalls, when we see the spread of misinformation, one of social media’s most timely challenges to tackle, and puts questions over the true access we have to information, once algorithms and online 'culture bubbles' come into play. We may have access to many conversations, but how many do we actually listen to?
The pandemic has amplified social media's strength as a communication tool, establishing a route to conversation, culture and information which may have otherwise felt lost to some. Before the pandemic, one could be forgiven for thinking social media was taking over real face-to-face conversations, giving a sense of having caught up with friends, simply because we've seen photos that have been posted on Instagram.
The gradual relaxation and reintroduction to social activities however has proven how much people value real interaction and activity. Social media is a powerful communication tool, one which has and will continue to revolutionise the way we communicate and absorb information, however it has a long way to go before it overtakes the millennia of communication methods before it. The mediums longevity is and will continue to be in its power to connect people and integrate communication and content methods.