I know this is going to sound like one of those “when I was young things were different” rants. But stay with me. Up until probably the middle years of the Nixon administration, the common descriptor for the TV in your living room wasn’t ‘plasma’ or ‘hi-def’ but simply “color.” As in, “Hey, the Schneiders just got a new color TV!” or “Mom, I’m sleeping over at Eddie’s house so we can watch Batman on his color TV.”
Ultimately, of course, the presence of color became so ubiquitous that we lost all need for the modifier. From that point forward it was just “TV.” I’m starting to think it will be this way with Social Media. It seems to me that we can easily project and imagine the day when all media is social. Look around and you can already see the signs. Thumbs up “like” symbols, rating systems, forwarding, feedback tools, comment boxes….they’ve quickly become part of everything we read or do online, a trend I think only accelerates at a dizzying point from here on out.
I don’t think it stops with when we walk away from the browser either. “Event TV” — the Oscars, the Super Bowl, the MTV Video Music Awards — is already a shared social experience thanks to message boards, Twitter, Facebook and who knows how many other players. As TV becomes more and more “connected,” the social sharing aspect of viewing escalates dramatically. Heck, “group viewing” (“grooving?”) may even be the ultimate answer to time shifting: you now have a reason to watch “30 Rock” at airtime rather than on TiVo, because that’s when your friends will be watching it and it will be a shared social experience. Digital saves the financial base of television. Oh, the irony!
To their credit, Facebook understood the basic truth of this idea very early. “Social Media” to too big and powerful of a phenomenon to be confined to a single place, even a place as big as Facebook.com. So they’ve rolled out Facebook Connect in an effort to become the social connective tissue of the entire web, if not of all electronic media. Whether they are the ones to achieve that end or not, the end itself is preordained.
So you won’t catch me using social media much longer. I’ll just be consuming media…..socially.