What’s next for social media? — “synthesis”

Just over two years into it, I’m relieved to share a personal insight that many may talk about indirectly or create spin around it to get attention but few really say outright: the social media revolution is well into its ‘synthesis’ stage.

But before I bullet-point the meaty parts of this post, a stroll down memory lane and some fun facts:

Revolution and dialectics
I refer to ‘synthesis’ within the context of Hegelian dialectics, which in principle characterizes the structural elements of most societal revolutions (this tidbit, brought to you in part by an invisible data log wedged in my brain from when this concept was first introduced to me in high school).

Thank you, George Wrobel, wherever you are now..you are the best history teacher ever.

Now that we are spoiled by Wikipedia, I am able to further explain (copy and paste) that Hegelian dialectics is comprised of “three stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction; an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis; and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis.”

Ergo, the reference to ‘synthesis’ above, which now provides context on the thrust of this post.

Apparent novelty
My initial branding of this blog as “reflections on the social media revolution” speaks to a time when social media was still in the thick of the thesis-antithesis stage.

And quite frankly, the idea of social media gaining mass visibility at the time was certainly very exhilarating and ‘revolutionary’.

Now, social media is in the mainstream.

And by that I mean, it’s no longer a novelty: everyone’s on the merry wagon waving their flags, catching their breath or quickly scheming away at how this so-called “social media marketing” model can benefit both personal and financial interests.

But is social media revolutionary?

Inevitable awareness
So here’s the thing: yes, there are some strong revolutionary aspects to social media. It aims to democratize. It fosters openness. It breaks down barriers to entry. It connects people (and now things!) together and in remarkable ways which only few of us were aware since the dawn of the Internet.

And there’s the rub: the Internet. Our experience of connectedness, our heightened awareness of ‘things in motion’ and ‘things to come’ are all possible because of where it they’re all happening: the Internet.

Inevitably, with or without the ‘revolutionary’ descriptor, social media would have taken place organically because of how the Internet has thus far evolved.

The face of ‘synthesis’
So here are some bullets on what this state of ‘synthesis’ may end up looking:

  • Social media will simply be media. McLuhan’s words ring no truer: the media is the message. And that message has gotten far too many of us distracted. A few experienced and well studied folks out there and online understand what this means. That we call it ‘social media’ now is purely referential; it gives us a common way to explain what this once seemingly novel phenomenon really is. Will it matter if we call is something else? Not really.
  • The ‘Internet of Things’ will make data (and objects) reign supremeReadWriteWeb portrays and monitors this movement very closely. In brief, the way RWW portrays the ‘Internet of Things’ may be described as a state in the future where there are more things (i.e., physical objects, sensors) wired together (interconnected) on the Internet than there are people.
  • Business will be personal; personal will be our business. Business is already frantically revamping its old institutionalized models as a combination of socially and economically driven factors and influences (thanks in part to social media) conspire to force the way we do business with each other. Conversely, ease of both creating our content (personal or otherwise) and accessing such content is forcing us to make it our own personal business to ensure we understand what private and public lives really mean.
  • Relativity will finally be understood and highly valued. As a species, we can be remarkably bright or hopelessly dense. This is a function of our highly evolved brain and that’s fine; not much we can do about that. But what often strikes me most is our indomitable desire to accomplish countless feats and to do so successfully, preferably in states of perfection.The preference to be perfect comes with a degree of obsession with the absolute, which also happens to be a function of scientific endeavour. (I know I seem to be digressing, but I’ll wrap it up shortly)Social media and the Internet will force us to constantly question, re-evaluate and transform (a) traditional schools of thought, (b) established mores, and (c) longstanding theories and models as well as consensually pre-conceived and accepted modes of behavior.Why? Because we will finally come to realize that we live in realms of relativity yet are forced to obtain absolutes. Once we really appreciate and understand this, then there would be a really good reason to make a blockbuster Hollywood film that captures it all. Oh okay, maybe a book first. Or graphic novel.

What do YOU think will be next for social media? Do see it going beyond the obvious and predictable?
graphic sourced from photobucket.com by shibby999955

8 thoughts on “What’s next for social media? — “synthesis”

  1. I love this statement about social media…”It aims to democratize. It fosters openness. It breaks down barriers to entry. It connects people (and now things!) together and in remarkable ways which only few of us were aware since the dawn of the Internet.”

    Autom, this is a great post! I am one of those who does see social media going beyond the obvious and predictable. Why? Because I believe social media has so much more to add to our lives. People and by extension businesses are changing the way they think/operate because of social media. “Business will be personal; personal will be our business” is such a true statement. Only when people know or are informed can they change, grow and respect.

  2. Both David and Christina beat me to it – great post Autom!

    Without getting too entrenched in philosophical thinking, I believe what takes us to the point where social media goes beyond the obvious and predictable is human ability. At the core of this great revolution is “open source” – call it intelligence, insight or information. Let’s call the technology and the dynamic way our ideas get syndicated the enablers.

    I think we may well find ourselves at a point in the ‘revolution’ where too much information (TMI) and technology’s autocracy slowly takes away from our ability to process, analyze and act on it in a way that leads us to bigger and better things. I contend that TMI may have already come in the way of human ability and its progression, and in some ways we’ve allowed it to take over by embracing this notion of technology being the fixer upper of all things broken.

    As long as technology is kept in such high regard and esteem, with its overarching and nimble authority, obvious and predictable become palatable, and far too convenient when tasks otherwise handled through human ability wither away from abandonment and rust.


  3. Though the world is increasingly global, I have the impression social media (r)evolution it’s not going as fast in my country as in others. We’re still fighting on the “thesis-antithesis” stage, I fear, but surely we will bridge the gap soon.

    Yes, I can see the face of “synthesis”.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas, Autom. This is a great post.


  4. Dave – thanks! hope the ‘food for thought’ was useful

    Christina – the possibilities and implications of social media do seem limitless given the ease and intensity of being plugged in to a 24/7 beat..it will be interesting what types of dramatic changes it may bring now that it’s become part of our day-to-day

    Joseph – what’s wrong with “getting too entrenched in philosophical thinking”? 😉 this is more of a thought piece than a how-to post..although your point is well taken with being mindful of the role human ability plays in shaping social media’s future..the balance between automated abandon and our volatile human condition needs to be kept in check

    Pachi – this is an excellent point: despite our seemingly global connectedness, we are all in effect also strongly influenced by environment, geography and different ways of life, all of which affect the rate of social media’s entrenchment into our day-to-day

  5. I like your post Autom. The very survival of social media is its reliance on the internet. And I do believe it leads us to question everything we’ve established from a communication perspective and figure out how we have to evolve and as you say, “question our mores” and “traditional schools of thought”. From that vain, I don’t believe the we can simplify social media as media in its traditional sense. Media is communication from the corporation to the consumer. It was one-way and we consumed that information and used it as the basis of our own knowledge. This new form of media, now “democratized”leads us to question the validity of information, and whether or not an individual is as credible as an institution. It is starting to blur the lines between blogger and journalist, between libraries and established institutions and places like Wikipedia. From that perspective, this media needs to be handled much differently than traditional media because the consumer is in control and how companies handle and choose to syndicate their messages is going to be vastly different than what they’ve experienced before.

    I think this will pose a great challenge to a lot of companies, realizing social media’s impact on their business as a whole, and what they have to do operationally to keep up and ultimately survive.

  6. Hessie – yes, in some respect, even the notion of being “agile” simply won’t cut it for orgs, as the proliferation of opinions and perspectives is relentless in its pace..while certain companies now may in fact find ways to survive without social media’s help, i do wonder how broadly this new popular medium will force a shift in modes of behaviour in general (and how quickly it will do so..see Pachi’s comment 😉 when i refer to ‘social media becoming media’, i am somewhat stating the obvious and not actually alluding to the traditional sense of media but more the notion of the ‘medium’, the environment or delivery system..appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts

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