Soon after the ape man built himself a house and took to farming he craved to be heard and understood by his neighbor. Since then human beings have yearned too much become social beings. To be known, heard, understood and accepted has always been a top priority from then on.
Socialization can be defined in the traditional sense as the “process of accumulating skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society; one that is formed through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages”.
For long, the social networking was only possible through personal interactions. Any form of communication demanded the people to be physically present. The concept of reaching out to masses with an idea/information was inconceivable and hence non-existent. It can easily be understood why it took ages for civilizations to evolve. In 1943, Abraham Maslow published his research ‘A theory of Human Motivation’, wherein he explained that the ‘Sense of Belonging’ and ‘Being Accepted’ by fellow men is actually a human need that forms the basis for holding a good self-esteem.
With the advent of mass communication system and in particular the TV challenged the accepted model of social networking. For the first time an idea/opinion could be shared with people at low cost and instantaneously. The culture, values and traditions started to be packaged into interactive programs and beamed to masses. Soon, the multimedia platforms of mass communication became effective tools to reach out to the people and influence their way of thinking, behaviour and opinions.
There was still something missing in the overall picture. A platform was still desired that could actually engage the masses among themselves. It was this need that the internet and the plethora of social networking platforms that followed catered to.
Internet followed the popularity and the availability of the desktops and laptops. The rapid growth and the deep penetration of internet were ideal for the social networking sites to emerge and flourish. In a short span of time platforms like Wikipedia, Youtube, Orkut, Facebook, Twitter took over the bulk of traffic on the internet. Today one can use facebook to be in touch with one’s friends. One can share not only his thoughts there but also pictures, videos and just about anything that can be digitally archived. Blogging is in vogue and people air their opinions, ideas, thoughts and reach out to the masses with utmost ease.
For the first time in the history of mankind, the physical and geographical barriers for personal interaction and social networking at large were convincingly shattered. These ‘Social Networking Tools’ have literally transformed the world from an age of information deficiency to that in which ideas are to be copyrighted as it has become impossible to hide anything from anyone anymore.
These social networks have created a whole world within themselves. They in collaboration with each other are today’s most comprehensive database of knowledge and most reliable source of news. They host the most preferred entertainment avenues and are proven tools to influence the likes and dislikes of the people. It is also widely accepted that they decide the fate of a community and a nation at large as demonstrated in the recently held presidential elections in USA.
There are instances of HR/Administrative agencies employing SNA to determine whether or not a particular individual has criminal tendencies. Brand Managers/PR’s are another set of people who closely monitor the networks to understand how their brand/product is perceived by the masses. Not to forget the digital marketers to whom the Social Network is THE new marketplace to sell their products.