You wake up in the morning, or sometime during the day or night. You go straight to your computer device and turn it on, or take it off of sleep, or you sit down in front of it if you leave it on 24/7. You open your browser, click your bookmarks, favorites, or speed-dial. In less than one second your eyes tunnel-vision; your brain implodes and is devoured by the magical world of computer-based social networking technology: Yahoo, Google, Facebook, My Space, Twitter, news, games, chat, blogging. You are plugged in to the world. You are a social networker.
In June 2010, Nielsen (a social-media surveyor), reported that three of the world’s most popular brands online are social-media related (Facebook, You Tube, and Wikipedia). This group also reported that of all the time worldwide spent online 22% (one in every four and half minutes) are spent on social networks and blog sites. This estimates that social networks and blog sites are visited by three quarters of all global consumers online. In layman’s terms, this means that the average social network visitor (e.g: YOU, if you are reading this.) spends an average of 6 hours per day on social network sites. These are jaw dropping statistics considering that the previous year had reported an in-itself stunning average of 3.5 hours per day.
From these one-year-old statistics Google is the world’s most popular brand online followed by MSN second, Facebook third, and Yahoo in fourth. Microsoft is fifth; You Tube is sixth. A breakdown of countries shows Brazil leading the world in social network visitation as 86% of onliners are socially networking, followed by Italy 78%, Spain 77%, Japan 75%, the U.S. and U.K. each at 75%. One cannot begin to fathom what this year’s statistics will show.
Further statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and Nielsen Online for 2010 show the world’s population estimated 6,845,609,960. Of this nearly 7 billion people, 1,966,514,816 are Internet users. Ten years ago, 2000, the number of Internet users was only 360,985,492. This is over 500% increase in ten years.
The internet has reached a worldwide epidemic in the last ten years. As the statistics above show, the ever growing number of internet users are highly addicted to social networking. What does this mean? It means that social networking has come to define a worldwide people class of its own. People are on the go, plugged in, full attention, glued to what is going on inside the little electronic device in their hand or sitting in front of them. Even when they are not “plugged in” they are addictively thinking about what is happening in everyone else’s life on the Internet. It is a social behavior that has redefined social activity.
Though there are nearly 2 billion people online worldwide, there are nearly 5 million who are not. Going by these statistics and the scale of social networking going on at this rate, social networkers have forgotten the people who are not, or cannot, be a part of their online social class. The first of the forgotten that comes to mind is the elderly parent or grandparent, the 20th Century’s aging and dying generation who communicates by telephone, letter, or a visit and a handshake. Next, and more importantly is the mentally and physically disabled. Then, there is the poor, homeless, and incarcerated. And, of course there is always the children.
Of the nearly 5 billion people socially networking online, I wonder what percentage of this would comprise the aforementioned forgotten classes: 25%, 35%, 50%??? Where are the statistics for this I wonder? I have not yet found these statistics. I suppose only God is keeping tabs of this.
Although social networking does grand wonders for our world, I bequeath social networkers worldwide to remember equality and democracy and let not social class divide us. We who are functionally able to utilize the opportunities which social networking offers, let us not do so toward idiocy and spreading of foolish gossip on social sites but toward the health of humanity. We must not allow our social networking to erect a wall between us and 5 billion other people. Some of these people live on our street, in our neighborhoods, even in our own home. Let us find the balance, suspend our electronic devices, unplug from the Internet and plug in to the Human-net.