The Disappearance of “Social Media”

I’m sitting here in the swirl of buzz that is SxSWi (South by Southwest Interactive), the smorgasbord of all things leading edge in the digital creative space.

It’s all going to disappear.

What I mean is this: what we now call “social media” – this leading edge congolomeration of stuff that allows us to communicate immediately, globally, with very few limitations, will all morph in such a way that we won’t recognize it soon. Blogging (as we know it), Twitter (as we know it), and other early-generation platforms and mechanisms are all transitional forms.

What we are doing is connecting, publishing, sharing, community-building. Just as people have done forever. And just as people will do, much more effectively, in 5 years, when we try to remember what we meant when we talked about “social media.”

As Jeff Pulver mentioned in a conversation yesterday, ham radio was an early form of social media. We don’t talk about ham radio much anymore. And as adoption of lifestreaming tools like Twitter and Facebook accelerates, as publishing of creative efforts and general life updates becomes more and more mainstream, social media will simply be…life. Just as it is for many of the teens who have known no different. I wasn’t in the session, but apparently Charlene Li alluded to social media becoming like the air that surrounds us. Exactly.

For my kids, on-line sharing, persistent connectivity via mobile devices, and much of what an older generation calls “social media” is just the way life is conducted. The early, transitional tools will be irrelevant, because much smarter platforms will soon appear, with far greater ability to connect, find, aggregate, filter, and share.

We won’t be talking about “social media” for long, I predict. We’ll simply live in a global networked community. And we’ll move on to the real work – not adoption of new social media thingies, but making a difference with all the blessings of connectivity we enjoy.

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

17 Responses to The Disappearance of “Social Media”

  1. pastorcox says:

    Wow, not only is that profound, but also subtly obvious. Gotta agree with the direction you see things moving. It’s mind-boggling to think that what fascinates us will be life as usual one generation from now.

  2. True that. But let’s remember that while this stuff will be no big thing in years to come, the content creators that are high volume, know good SEO, share techniques, are highly (and authentically) networked, remain focused on a niche of topics – those folks will still be in the very small minority. Call them long/medium-tail publishers…that’s what we are! 😀

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  4. Ike says:

    Social Media will disappear when the forward pass does.

    Of course, virtually nobody references the NFL rulebook for a forward pass anymore. We have more descriptive terms, like slants, fades, hooks, fly patterns, shovels, screens, and many others.

    “Social Media” as a descriptive name already has diminished value, because there are better words to describe the depth and breadth of a specific undertaking.

  5. While I agree that social media will become more integrated into the fabric of our daily communications (remember when e-mail was the ‘new-fangled’ office shiny new thing), and that social networking will undoubtedly morph or transform into something other than it is now. However, the broader adoption may take a bit longer than those of us deeply involved in it now might think.

    There are still many hundreds of thousands, really millions, of individuals and thousands of companies for whom this is still a confusing ‘undiscovered country.’ Let’s not forget what it was like to be the new kid on the block, and help someone every day to encourage them to understand these online tools, and help them find the right ones for there needs. Not every small business needs to use every tool out there. Those of us who are exploring this strange new world, need to be sure to leave well-drawn maps and compasses with instructions for the next wave of online colonists.

  6. I guess its just the way innovations (advantageous to the early adopters) turn to infrastructure (required for all) over time.

    Electricity was an innovation once, so was light bulb & railway lines. But now we can’t think of a life without them now.

    IT is already called infrastructure in many countries. And Internet is debated as being an ‘addiction’.

    Soon it will be so for Social Media & Social Networking apps too. We will just be immersed in it.

    But how far are we from that timeline depends from country to country & person to person too.

    Like the digital divide that we talk of, maybe we will talk of social web divide? Or will the 1st address the second? But isn’t electrifying crucial for laying the IT infrastructure?

    I digress. I am sorry.

    I agree, we will see your views come true. But only time can tell when.

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  17. peter says:

    I like your comment ‘social media will simply be…life’; it is interesting to ask the question of whether we deal with and think of our media differently when they have become so small we can’t see the actual devices anymore. Maybe we would still treat and use them the same, meaning life as it is already has a definite cyborged quality to it.

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