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Gil Laroya Headshot

Social Media -- No Longer Avant Garde?

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During the dawn of the social media age, the thought of logging onto a site online and sharing personal information was just not considered "normal". People pictured a 20-something, with a beenie, spiked hair, a nose piercing, and a laptop, as the typical visitor to such a website. But the Internet has evolved, and yes West Virginia, even grandma has got a Facebook page.

Who would have thought that the Internet would become a haven of social sharing and social information?

Not too long ago, there were technology pundits who warned us all about impending doom, as hackers and thieves gathered their utilities, ready to pounce on unsuspecting web-surfers. Like wired Robin Hoods, they would swoop down onto your email accounts and into your desktop PCs, scouring your hard drives and "sent" folders for financial information and account passwords. Adding to these threats would be the rampant trading of personal information, by crooks and by potential employers alike, both attempting to get the "dirt" on ones personal life.

With all of these dangers flowing through the Internet like muddy water, who in the world would be foolish enough to share their personal world online?

But something happened... something wonderful.

There were, scattered throughout the world wide web, small groups of technology evangelists; people who understood how to navigate the web, to avoid its pitfalls, to find the random oases that existed in the internet desert. These people were Internet nomads, who believed that no matter how bad the net could be, the net was also a place where people could gather - good people who wanted to share instead of steal. These people saw the potential of the Internet to be the wired bridge that could bring people together, irregardless of all the inherent dangers that were a part of the web.

In essence, these pioneers went into what was once a potential ghetto, and turned it into a thriving neighborhood. They became the founders of what are today the pillars of the social media; Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and countless other sites.

As the internet got older, it was never a question of it maturing - it was always about the age of its users. Because the Internet was never meant to be more than a vessel, it required mature users to give legs (and dollars) to web technology, and bring it into mainstream acceptance as a go-to form media. After all, it also took time for other mediums such as handwritten letters and the wired telephone, to gain acceptance by the everyday person. In many ways, for the same reasons; cost of usage, mistrust of the technology, lack of ease-of-use, and limited numbers of users.

So why is it that in today's world, we are seeing such an explosion of technology usage by so many demographics? From toddlers using teaching toys, to grandparents video-conferencing with grand-kids, technology is becoming less "technogeek" and more "tool of the day".

And, for the same reasons that people used to shun technology, they are now flocking to it.
Cost of usage has gone down to the point where almost anyone can afford to use technology, protections are being put in place by websites to lessen the online threats that used to scare people away, user interfaces are now more refined and more intuitive, and the proliferation of internet-ready devices including tablets and smartphones make connecting online a breeze.

The Internet has come a very long way in a very short time. With the efforts of webmasters, device makers and programmers, the net is slowly becoming more Blase', and less Avante-Garde'.

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