This is a topic that I have wanted to get to for a while now, because whether it is something that I am claiming or something that everyone else is also seeing and have put words too, I believe that we have now entered into the second age of social media as of 2019. Let me take the time in this short essay to explain what the previous eras of social media were, when they were and what this second era is, why it will last the length of time I predict in the title and many more things.
First thing is first, what are the layouts of the ages? As of this present moment, there are 3; The Pre-Social age which ran from the internet’s inception in 1994 till around 2004, the First Age of Social Media (aka The Aggregate Era) which goes from 2005 till the end of 2018, and then finally the Second Age of Social Media (aka The Age of Value) which starts this year in 2019 and I believe will last until the end of the 2020s in 2029.
The first era of social media, what I call the 0th age of social media, is the Pre-Social Age. This is often dominated by chatrooms, AOL/Hotmail messaging, forums and emailing. These are not really as “pro-social” as a lot of the future methods that will be mentioned, and since they are technically not “Social Media” as we know it to be today, that is the reason I do not count them as the same thing. It was an age where there was really no video or mass media sharing of any kind, and it was just slightly more tedious ways to communicate with each other quicker. Forums especially (which even in the 2010s I have experienced) were tough as some sites may have had notifications on them for when someone responded to your thread, others may not have and you would have had to sit there and constantly refresh the page until someone responded. A large portion of the Social Medias that we know of today begun their development at the tail end of this era, and though some sorts of social medias existed after the year 2000, but before the year 2005, they were not as popular as the ones from the First Age, and did not work in quite the same way.
The First Age (second era) of Social Media is what I like to call The Aggregate Age. From 2005-2018 the goal for many social media consumers was to aggregate as much of the socials as they could to their eyeballs like visual crack (I too was not immune to this). The major difference between this and the 0th Age of social media, is that in that first era, many of the social media platforms where not all that popular or served only one purpose. Now that socials were becoming more popular, they were becoming quite multifaceted and with that, it drew people’s attention to them, and they wanted to get as much of it as they could. Facebook launched in late 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011, these are the largest players in the field of the First Age/second era. It appeared to everyone as these were being launched that since they all serve a different purpose that we needed to have all of these (and again I am very much still guilty of this), and there is nothing explicitly wrong with having a lot of different types of social media applications. It was just that in the First Age of social media, many people just blindly signed up for the different socials and gave over their data without much thought as to how the company was going to use it, and because of that we ended up with situations like the Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook from 2016. Showing us that in the age where all of the social media companies really just want us to spend as much time on their apps as possible, that they really do not care what happens to their users and their data.
We enjoy the fun that is social media, but I think sometimes a bit too much. The First Age of social media really helped open everyone us to the awesomeness that the internet has instore and the things that can be accomplished, but now here in 2019 I, along with many people I know and have seen online are pissed off and just done with the fact that we need to spend countless hours on social media in order to get anything out of it. In the early going it was fun, now it gets in the way. There is no better point for this than the fact that now we have the ability on sites like Instagram and Facebook to just simply “deactivate” our accounts instead of deleting them so that we can come back to them in the future. The platforms themselves do not want us leaving them and never returning because it hurts their bottom line, but if we are not getting any value from them, why should we stick around? That brings us to the 3rd era/Second Age of social media.
The Age of Value, otherwise known as the 3rd era/Second Age of social media began this year. I have noticed a lot of people just like myself who have gone and deleted platforms that no longer serve them in the way that they used to when they first got them. 2019-2029 I feel will be this brand-new era. Starting this year, I can already see that people are starting to use platforms a hell of a lot more deliberately. I am only using platforms that I wish to use and those that serve a specific purpose. I only post things that I believe add value, I also only kept the ones that really fit with the life that I am trying to lead in the now. Facebook no longer fit that mould, so back in July (as per my essay) I deleted it. I turned Twitter into my new Facebook and that is far simpler and brings me a lot more joy than Facebook ever did. Instagram and Snapchat have been curated so that I am only posting on there with the things that I feel I want people to see and not just random things, if ever I have the urge to do that, that is what Snapchat is for. They are posted and either disappear within 24 hours or are gone after someone looks at it. No longer do I feel a need to photograph and keep every, single thing I do. The Age of Value is here now and I feel that it will be one of the better times the internet will see because everything people will be doing by the end of the 2020s will be deliberate and whatever place we are all users of by that time, we will have our near die-hard (metaphorically) reasons for why we keep it around.
Now the final point I want to make for therefore exactly I feel it will last EXACLTY 10ish years. Nowadays I notice that we have decadal values and things always seem to change every ten years. I say by 2030 we will enter that next era/age, but what it will be and who the major players are, I cannot say for sure now. All I do know is, we are now in a new era, and should be proud of how far we have come and the fact that we are slowly moving away from that need to get as much of this in every day as possible.