Social Media, Sans Blue Screens of Death

18 Oct

My junior year of high school, I remember giving a presentation on my teacher’s PowerBook. Presumably I navigated it well, as my teacher asked me if I was a Mac user. Still a user of a Sony Ericsson phone and an eMachines desktop at home, I replied that I hoped to be soon.

I realized that it doesn’t really take much to be a Mac user. Within minutes a person of almost any age can, more or less, figure out how to operate almost any Apple device. (Seriously, have you seen the videos of two-year-olds and people in their 80’s playing with iPads like it was second nature?) There is something that is so basically intuitive about Apple products.

Social media is so popular, basically, because community is an intrinsic part of humans and societies. It feels natural to communicate with one another. While people’s preferences on specific social media outlets differ, primarily the social media sites people choose to use are the ones that feel natural.

Steve Jobs created devices that married people’s innate senses with technology to the point that it feels like an extension of oneself. They make us feel comfortable, and they excite us—especially my generation, the biggest users of social media. (Just for reference, Apple sold over four million iPhone 4S units in just three days.) Thus, Apple devices have impacted social media drastically.

If you got a Mac sometime within the past several years (probably college, like me), remember one of the first things you probably did: Photo Booth. While it plays into some of our more narcissistic tendencies, and though it is not a completely novel idea, Apple packaged it in an easy, fun way that makes people (even to this day!) want to instantly post their 60-photo albums of goofy faces on Facebook. I don’t know many Mac users that haven’t been through this phase. I know I have. Even Steve Jobs has!

Or take for example the photo site Flickr. In only a year of it being sold, the iPhone 4 overtook every other camera, becoming the most popular camera used on the site:

(source)

Twitter is, in my opinion, the king of social media currently. Facebook has more users, sure, but with their constant and drastic interface changes, at this point it is a hard-to-navigate, sloppy amalgum of Twitter and Google+ feature rip-offs. </rant> Twitter is now embedded deep into iOS5, which has already tripled daily Twitter signups. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo compared Twitter and Apple recently, saying they “share a similar product mentality, of enhancing products by editing them down, and ‘offering simplicity in a world of complexity.’”

Steve Jobs did not create the apps that make the iPhone so functional and fun, but he provided a platform for creation, collaboration, and community, by which much of social media is accessed and influenced.

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