In A Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media, Jose Van Dijck explained how platforms have become central forces in the construction of sociality, how owners and users have helped to shape and are shaped by this construction” (23). Social media platforms have “influenced human interaction on an individual and community basis and altered the nature of private and public communication” (4,7).
Social media platforms have become very important in the lives of many. From the idea that social media being defined as simply “internet based applications that build on ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0” that allow the exchange of user-generated content, the constant use of new technology has changed “social media” to an “ecosystem of connective media” (22). This “ecosystem” of platforms has allowed one to create his or her identity through, for example, sharing information, videos, pictures and building or establishing relationships. The want for social “connectivity” is astounding.
While social media platforms have changed the way we communicate, we are not fully in control when using these social media platforms.
As Djick mentions in the book, social media networks and platform have algorithms that “serve as define instructions for calculating a function and a step-by-step directive for processing or automatic reasoning that orders the machine to produce a certain output from a given input” (30). Other components such as “defaults and protocols” affect the ay users’ use social media. As a young teenager all the way up until the end of my teenage years, I did not really pay attention to the idea that popular social media sites, such as Facebook, could control what we wanted or the power that this site had to continuously provide me with information. At 23, looking back on how far social media has come and how these platforms will continue to grow, it is almost scary to think how powerful these platforms will be in the future. While I would share and like information on Facebook, watch videos on YouTube and look for certain people on Twitter, as a teenager, I did not truly realize that I had fallen into the game of algorithms and processes that social media networks use to keep users engaged. As a journalist, social media is important to me. Now, however, I am aware of the things that dominate these platforms. I am more cautious and understanding to what the platforms want me to do. It is important that people use social media effectively and not to simply conform to the norm.
When reading this book, I thought about my parents’ use of social media. My mother uses Facebook but does not use it a lot. My father is not big fan of social media at all, kind of like Pete Alvin but my father’s social media use is less than Pete Alvin’s. My father has a Facebook account but he does not use it often. He is not big on sharing his personal information, his whereabouts and his everyday tasks to the world using social media. Like some parents do, he feels that sharing information, pictures and or liking certain information provides people too much information about himself. He curtails his use of social media, specifically Facebook, to keep up with his children and family members. Although he knows the power that exists in social media sites to provide us with information we like, which he doesn’t like, he is not fully aware of how it can benefit him in other ways.
After reading this book, it is important we take more control of how we use social media. As these platforms will continue to grow and change with time, the technology aspect will do the same. While liking and sharing information, it allows us to be social with others. Moving forward, as scholars have begun to discuss, there needs to be more cultural interaction in how we use social media. Culture plays a huge role in truly understanding who we are, not just a simple like on a post for example. While our culture is “connected” with many platforms, we need to incorporate more of the social angle to understand just how much social media really is helping or hindering us from growing socially.