Some of you might be like me, and find it hard to understand why there are people out there who aren’t so keen to accept social media and recognise its usefulness.
Granted, some of us are more tech savvy and find it easier to get acquainted with new technologies. After all, if you think about it, the current generation of teenagers has never lived in a world without the Internet.
There are many reasons, however, for people to be sceptical about social media. At the moment, tools like Facebook and Twitter all seem like a fad.
Then, there are others who are just uncomfortable with technology, and try to rely on it as little as possible. Everytime I encounter doubters like this, I try to take the time to talk to them about the benefits of the Internet and social media, hoping to convince them to join in the fun.
Of course, those of us who are active users know that it’s not all games.
On Monday night, news of a fire in the heart of Kuala Lumpur first broke on Twitter. There were a couple of tweets on my Twitter stream about a fire, but the location was unknown. Because of this, no one could immediately confirm much, until a Twitpic (picture attached to a tweet) was posted by a user who lives on the top floor of a building just outside the city centre.
Slowly, via Twitter, the pieces came together and the fire was confirmed to be at Jalan Tun Sambanthan in KL.
On a larger scale, social media is proving to be a useful tool in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. Just minutes after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit, social media sites were abuzz with updates and calls for help.
People thousands of miles from Haiti were mobilising efforts to help the victims, including collecting aid money.
Across the globe, good Samaritans, including Hollywood celebrities (check out Sharm On The Scene), have come together to rally donations to support humanitarian efforts there.
Technology is one of the major tools of fundraising. At one point, The American Red Cross reported that almost a quarter of the money that poured in over the first few days came from text messages. In this system, people who wanted to donate US$5 (RM17.50) or US$10 (RM35) could text to specific numbers and the amount would be charged to their phone bills.
Meanwhile, Facebook created a Global Disaster Relief page to spread news about what was happening as well as point generous visitors to authentic fundraising efforts on the Internet.
Using Facebook’s Causes application, Oxfam in the United States reported that it has raised over US$100,000 (RM350,000) for earthquake victims.
These are only two instances in which social media has proven to be an effective tool for spreading information and bringing people together.
It will take a while before everyone jumps onboard, and look at using social networking tools in their lives. After all, social media is flexible and malleable, and there are many ways to use it. Find the best use for yourself, and let yourself be ”converted” if you’re not on board already.