Social media started long long long. . . you get the idea. . . ago in the stone age. Back then sending messages consisted of drawing pictures on walls that were pretty much meant to reach the next generation. Those pictures looked something like this:
This translates pretty much as, “I had a successful hunt today, but sprained my ankle, I will probably be dead when my son reads this.”
Eventually people learned about fire and started using smoke signals, but those were cumbersome and the wind often mangled the sentences:
At some point someone decided to invent the alphabet and people started writing letters to each other. Those usually took months or years to reach their destination. They’d go something like this:
47 months later Adeliene would receive a reply:
As you can see the time it took letters to arrive usually resulted in a lot of problems. .. well that and people sending poison to each other on a regular basis.
People quickly decided that getting letters back and forth as quickly as possible was so important that it required running horses to death. Thus was born the Pony Express.
As people became interested in sending electric shocks through wires they eventually invented the telegram. A system of sending little bursts of noise along long long long pieces of wire. Of course those little bursts of noise could sometimes be misinterpreted.
Soon people moved on to telephones and party lines allowing many people to speak to each other at once and some to just spy and listen all day. Many middle aged recluses loved this pastime.
As we approached the 1980s and computers became more prevalent in the home, people decided to return to alphabet based communication. Dial up Bulletin Boards in the 80s were the peak of social media, but each system was closed off from the others so there wasn’t nearly enough space to spread crazy rumors.
Then Bob Dole invented the Internet (he said he did) so that people could send out great amounts of rumors, lies, facts, spam and everything else all day long to all over the world. This destroyed many of the little groups that had existed on the dial up bulletin boards and replaced them with giant web based bulletin boards that people could reach through a single phone number. Eventually, people did away with the slow dial up method and switched to “high speed” Internet.
People missed having their little cliques and groups though, so Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter came along allowing people to feel like they had thousands of friends. This also allowed urban legends, crazy rumors, and conspiracy theories to spread even faster. Since everyone is more willing to trust a “friend” when they say something odd.
The future is bringing with it cell phone mesh geolocation, augmented reality, face recognition, always connected, social media insanity. You won’t be able to walk down the street without someone adding “tags” to your face that everyone else with a camera phone will be able to see when they meet you.
Eventually everyone will be plugged into a giant machine that will stir all of our thoughts together and I’m pretty sure the end result of that will be something like this: