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The Irresistible Pull Of Writing
Writing is a saga going back thousands of years. It has poured forth from man’s magic fingers from the first drawing ever made on a cave wall. Stone tablets and sarcophagusses, hieroglyphics, papyrus, paper and, finally, in the latest stage of technology, the digital world.
At every touch of pen to paper, a story lies deep and mysterious, a story that accumulates drop by drop from man’s innermost world of thought. What is told in that story is actually that person’s desire to express himself, the desire to share the thoughts stored up in his head and his views on various issues.
One of the age of technology’s most important contributions to communications, the internet is a giant communications network linking millions of people and devices and bringing us the world at a single ‘click’. And the most important and noteworthy development in that communications network in recent years is the phenomenon known as social networking, thanks to which we have a chance to reach forgotten friends out of our past, friends we haven’t seen in years, by sharing our personal details and where we’ve been in the different periods of our life. The system is so dynamic that every person we add to our contacts list gives us a chance to find other friends from his list, as well as meeting new people.
What takes social networking one step beyond are the little ‘walls’ where we can share our immediate thoughts and feelings and the mini-panels where we can share photos and videos. All this sharing plays a major role in the integrated phenomenon we call social media, insofar as any opinion we express on any subject whatsoever is quickly published on the walls of all our friends, and if our friends in turn express a comment or praise, that too is published on the walls of their circle of friends. Thanks to this cycle, views and messages that may be of interest to society in general can reach broad masses of people at a speed not available to any of the conventional media.
As the number of social networking sites increases, so does communication between them, so that a message sent out on one is automatically transferred to the others, thereby reinforcing the social networking phenomenon. Another key feature of this integration is that a message, like an arrow shot from a bow, and the information in it finds permanent life on the internet at unsurpassable speeds.
Unlike the conventional media which require years of education and experience to become a publisher, social media involve no such requirements. Social media are structured so that everyone who knows how to write and use the internet can be easily integrated. What’s more, thanks to the development of mobile communications technologies, loading a photo or video taken with a mobile phone onto a social networking site independently of time and space is as easy as pressing a few keys.
While people use social media to express themselves and expand their circles in the most fundamental sense, they can also use them to ask a question to which they need the answer, or to report a sick person in urgent need of blood.
Social media constitute a form of social behavior in response to the content that is published, and this is of paramount importance when it comes to measuring the psychological reaction of society at any given moment. For example, while the topic quickly loses currency when it’s only the close friends of a young girl whose cat is sick commenting on her message, a post by a technology guru speaking about the technical features of a product whose price is falling can persist on the agenda for quite some time.
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While the unrivaled structure of social media offers even the most insignificant individuals a perfect medium for sharing their thoughts and ideas, it is impossible to ignore the others who are well aware of this power and use it to their advantage. Thanks in particular to a new form of promotion which has been defined as viral advertising, businesses can market their products, services and brands easily and quickly and at very low cost by hiding behind already successful enterprises. This capability has been used very successfully in recent years to promote the new products of certain firms.
But there is also another side to the coin. A post that receives a few comments in support of a message written about a problem with a new refrigerator someone has bought can have a direct impact on the purchasing decisions of numerous potential customers. Similarly, a hidden flaw in a faulty product can reach a wide circle of people.
It is undeniable that technology has changed our lives and way of living, bringing us new possibilities and, especially, enormous developments in communications. At the same time, however, regardless of how their form may have changed over the millennia, man’s basic purpose and hopes remain essentially the same. Perhaps one day there will be no need for pen, paper or keyboards to share our thoughts and tell our stories, but the expectation of someone else’s praise that underlies every view we express will never change.