Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ideas to Ponder: "Social Media-Virtual World and Future of the Real World!"

Here is a simple question: "Where do you see this world in the next five to ten years?" know the answer! Ok..let me ask another set of questions: "How did the last five or ten years play out for you? Like you expected?" Now I believe the first question would become more and more difficult to answer!

The world as we know it is relentlessly changing, new economic factors are affecting the way we do business, the price of energy is creating second thoughts in the minds of a lot of people, demand on an individual's time combined with many other factors are shaping the way we look at our lives and our business.

Nobody would have ever predicted the economic fall of these so called free markets in late 2007 (when then fell freely!).

Today, the biggest buzzword in the world is “Social media”…everyone is talking, using, singing about it! Supporters of social media evolution are never tired of flattering about the goods that social media has brought to the society. They would talk about things like: How social media has improved the way people interact in the society. And that too in such a short span of time that, marketing professors in universities around the world are having difficult time answering questions posed by their students on influence social networking websites on marketing strategies of companies! I know that marketing Professors reading this post are feeling that pain! The basic cause of this pain is the slow realization of the emerging fact that, their Bible of marketing; “Kotler”, in no longer valid; and this is the time to say it Goodbye!

But, when I look at the emerging influences of social media on our society; I have mixed feelings:

On the one side; I feel that, social media has definitely narrowed down the perceived gap between different strata of society. It has made national and international boundaries meaningless. Today the flows of information communication, and more importantly knowledge communication have become smooth…

But on the other side; it has plagued the society by making virtual relationships more important than the real relationships! Today you can have thousand of friends in a matter of months on your facebook profile, and nobody knows how many of them you would ever meet in real life! With the advent of social networking websites, the phenomenon of “social proof” has gained more strength. And if we pay close attention to the history of mankind; it is this phenomenon of “Social Proof” which has been responsible for the downfall of human civilization!

Some people are still skeptical about the real strength of social networking. I think they need to come out of the state of denial, and move to the state of acceptance 

Watch this video for help!: here.

But, social networking doesn’t stop here…! There is a new phenomenon of virtual life, which is taking shape more aggressively than social media. 

The success of virtual life lies on the fact that people are frustrated with shortcomings of their real life! And virtual life provides them a platform, where then can live a life they never could have lived before…

I particularly liked the last lines in the above video: “Second life’s potential is incalculable. We have no clue on what future application that may be useful, but the best way to plan for the future is to build it; so get in there now and discover whole new world!”

When reality is hard to escape, you can have the whole new world: “Avatar”, watch this eye opening video on CBS news (please wait for a very short commercial there!)

After judging the unlimited potential of these virtual worlds (Social media and virtual world/Avatar), I am now more worried about the real world. These utopian worlds are just a medium through which people can easily run away from the harsh realities of real world!

|"If every able person starts living in these virtual societies then who would care about the real societies?"

14 days ago, Mashable wrote a lengthy post: “Why Social Media Is Reinventing Activism” describing the direct and indirect benefits of social media. It talked about the benefits like ‘online donation’ to ‘easy video/content/knowledge sharing’ using social media. This post was basically a response to a Malcolm Gladwell’s post “brought it up” in the New Yorker, in which Malcolm analyzed the side effects of social media evolution.

|"There is more than what these people have analyzed, and most of that is known only to time. We can only speculate in between!"

But one thing is for sure…we can’t stop the social media Tsunami, but what we can do is to provide it a direction in which only benefits remain. This job of providing direction is no single person’s responsibility…rather it’s a collective responsibility, where every one of us has to realize that, we are equally responsible for what happens in the virtual world as in real world! These two are never separate; they are like two sides of the same coin…

It is the 12th of many posts written under "Idea to Ponder series" (you can visit all of them here). Stay updated, get updates via email: Click here.
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