Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, is pushing a people-driven revolution that is altering our behaviour. It’s impacting our philosophies, politics and even how businesses work.
In their book; Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler explore how this medium is influencing our behaviour.
They explain how a lot of what we do is influenced by external factors – events, experiences and people. This extends to social media and the network of people we interact with.
In fact they claim that online interaction could even explain why obesity is contagious and how we find or choose our partners!
This influence and expression of behaviour is described as “power” by 92Y’s Deputy Executive Director, Henry Timms:
“’Old Power’ is download power that served the few,” he said to an audience at Mashable Connect in Florida. He was referring to politicians and organisations; “(this power) flows vertically, it is coveted and sees power as money.”
Social media has heralded a “New Power”. Timms continued, “’New Power’ is upload power. It serves the many, it flows sideways, it shares and sees the power as a current.”
He is referring to the shift of control to global communities who share their views and interact with like-minded people. This has connected strangers and created movements that would otherwise not have such magnitude or influence.
The organisation of demonstrations and information spread through new technology in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall St movements are testament to this shift in power.
Timms suggests that technology has not established this movement of New Power. Instead, actions have been “catalysed by new media but driven by new expectations about power.”
He asserts that in future, there will not be a decline of either Old or New Power. Instead, the two will work together; “The future will belong to the bilingual – those who are comfortable with the past and can master the future.”
So, power and influence will be governed by the ability to listen to global voices on social media. These voices have become so strong that they have the ability to shift ideologies.