Any technological breakthrough was the reason of new expansions, new wars, new substantial changes in the structure of any society, where these technological achievements were accessible for the majority of people. Sciences began to play a more significant role than religion and customs; people began to rely on mechanisms and machines more than on their hands and brains.
The advent of microchips created numerous opportunities for the appearance of new, previously even unimagined technologies that are so common for everyone today. It was information technologies that created another, virtual world, which lives today its own parallel life with millions of people in it (Meltzer, 2010).
The advent of the Internet has changed people’s lives, transformed their understanding of the term “communication”. People got an opportunity to communicate with each other on the real-time basis, share photos and other information, gather into communities with the same interests. It was the beginning of a new era – an era of the Internet society. People are too social creatures to ignore such capabilities of socialization that the Internet provides.
Therefore, such concept as social networks came into people’s lives not so long ago and in the lives of some of them, it takes a significant place. Social network is only the form of communication, nothing else. However, the conveniences provided by the most popular social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace, and others make them more important and profound phenomena in the social aspect than most of the people think. In addition, social networks affected the channels through which people receive information about practically everything around (Domingo, 2010).
Mass media played a significant part in the process of forming mass opinion regarding most of the political, public, social, and other issues. It had influence on everything around in a rather well developed society of any country across the globe. When the electronic means of communication began to develop, the mass media functionary did not pay much attention to this insignificant fact. These people just could not have imagined that the situation would change so drastically during the next two decades (Kelly, 2010).
As this point of development, information technology provides people with new channels of receiving information from numerous independent sources. It affects such spheres as print mass media, common advertising, political life, and other public related areas. What influence does such situation have regarding the people, who got used to the technologies of the past? These are the people who work in the media and advertising; these are politicians and public people. In other words, it is anyone, whose life is connected with regular media environments, regardless of the side (Ollinger, 2010; Quain, 2010; Kelly, 2010).
Back in the days, when people received the major part of information from the printed mass media and TV, it was easy to control this information and its content. Basically, people had to listen or read the opinion of the particular journalists regarding some issue or new. It was not important, whether this opinion was intestinally biased or not. The scope of the opinions was too narrow to present the objective, comprehensive picture; reflect the real state of things.
Politicians were able to affect the opinion of the electorate using the above-mentioned channels. All they had to do was make the most respected and well-known journalist be on a particular side and promote a particular politician and the view of the supporting party. There were no significant challenges for the politicians, who were able to achieve such agreement with mass media somehow (Quain, 2010).
Public people, famous people, celebrities, etc. were the hostages of the press and there were no other opportunities to remind about them other than create some sort of a scandal or sensation. If the press did not like a particular person from this world, it could have been the beginning of the career’s decay or rise depending on the reaction of the public to the information, received from the press.
As it can be seen, people simply had no alternatives to the information channels at that time. Today the situation has changed drastically. If one wants to know something particular about somebody or something, all they need to do is open the Internet browser and start digging. It is possible that they will not find what they are looking for. However, the main and major difference between how it was and how it is today is in the number of opinions and sources of information (Quain, 2010).
Contemporary people do no need to watch TV or read newspapers to get abreast of the latest events worldwide. Everything is available online at this moment. So why would people, who have lived by selling their own opinion to the others for decades be happy of such state of things? Why should the politicians welcome the social media that cannot be influenced by any means? (Ollinger, 2010) The answers to these questions are hidden deeper in the understanding of the modern situation.
Social networks gave a new meaning to the concept of friendship, proposed new dimension for the relations. Facebook, for example, became so popular because it provided people with the capabilities, decentralized before. There were already websites for sharing photos, videos, music, etc. People were able to talk with each other online and via different online forums. They even could find new friends in the online communities, based on the similar interests. However, they were not able to do it in one place and time (Kelly, 2010).
People began to realize the power of the Internet and the ability to express freely their thoughts online. The social networks provide people with instruments, needed to fulfill such needs. Sharing photos, blogging, tweeting, and other similar occupations have created a new breed of journalists – online journalists (Domingo, 2010). These people whether they were amateurs or experienced professionals began to offer their opinions and thoughts regarding numerous events, situations, and subjects.
It was difficult to ignore such potential electorate so many political figures have their own pages on Facebook to show that they are close to the people; they are the same as ordinary people are (Kelly, 2010). Public people, celebrities, politicians – all of them understood the power of the Internet and the speed of information spreading all over the world via the social networks.
A modern popular social website is not just the place for hanging out with old friends, finding new ones, looking for interesting photos, etc. This is a powerful social instrument that can substantially influence the difference processes in the society. More and more people, including children join social networks to see what it is. The results of their experience can be very different.
It should not happen to the children, who have accounts on Facebook, but it happened. People should not inform half of the Internet (which is registered on Facebook) regarding the plans for two weeks’ vacation trip if they want to avoid being robbed. All these negative sides of the social networking are present in the regular life, but on the smaller scale (Meltzer, 2010).
Everything depends on the angle of perception. Offline journalists disregard online social media for the lack of professionalism and the attempts to question their respected opinion. Politicians have to change their model of behavior to consider the changed preferences of modern people, who prefer to look at what people do for real than just talk (as it is written in the printed media) (Quain, 2010). Celebrities got an exclusive opportunity to draw the public attention by creating their own news and sensations online.