2012 may be remembered as the year of ‘slacktivism’, signing online petitions with a single click, copying and pasting Facebook statuses and retweeting to raise awareness about issues without actually getting involved.
However, social media helped us achieve a lot last year too. From space travel to crime solving, social media is becoming a bigger part of our lives every day and helping us do more.
More and more social media is becoming a news source. This year social media helped us keep up to date with breaking news instantaneously – for example, the US Presidential Election. As soon as the news broke, President Obama tweeted a picture showing him hugging his wife Michelle, which was quickly retweeted more than any other tweet. Just as television and radio overtook printed media, social media is quickly taking over them.
This year we saw a couple of awesome examples if social media used as a crime-solving tool. A picture of a car part posted on reddit was quickly identified – make, model and year– resulting in the man who stole the car and used it in a hit and run being tracked down.
Social media also helped catch a gang accused of murders after they posted on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Important updates during Hurricane Sandy
Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, the most popular Facebook statuses included “we’re okay,” “we’re safe” and “made it”. Thousands were without power, but the convenience of social media allowed those affected by the disaster to let everyone know they were okay and check up on loved ones.
2012 also saw the Weather Channel in the US create hashtags on Twitter for individual storms, allowing those affected to easily track information about the storm and prepare before it hit.
Being a part of history
This year the team at NASA put a rover on the red planet to investigate the climate and geology of Mars – but this time, we got to keep up to date with its adventures like never before. Throughout its two-year mission, @MarsCuriosity will provide us with regular updates from the Red Planet, including pictures, and even check ins on Foursquare!
Learning an important lesson
Children are the future and so is social media. A primary school class in Victoria created a Twitter account and one of the students sent a tweet to Julia Gillard regarding his NAPLAN testing results – the class got a response from Peter Garrett, Minister for School Education.
With the rise of social media it seems almost inevitable that it enters our classrooms, and it was even mentioned at the World Innovation Summit for Education this year. Student formed groups on Facebook allow collaborative learning while blogs written by teachers give updates on homework, assignments and exams.
Class twitter accounts even allow parents to keep up with what’s happening at school. With the rollout of the NBN there is no doubt that we’ll see video conferencing through programs like Skype between classes and schools.
So what’s next?
A couple of years ago we would have never imagined the internet being used the way it is today. I look forward to seeing what achievement 2013 brings!