Social media is everywhere and many of us are on one social network or another pretty much all the time. Our inability to disconnect, and even our often-annoying compulsion to over share, is impacting our world in unexpected ways.
Your Facebook and Twitter updates, even the mundane ones, are providing the basis for groundbreaking research, changing the face of politics, altering how our society addresses social issues – and much more.
As part of communicatto’s digital literacy series, I’ve already examined the ways that social media is changing, law enforcement, health care and charitable giving – now, here’s a list of some of the other unexpected ways social media is impacting our world:
1. Researchers at Kansas State University are looking at how social media could serve as a preventative measure for infectious diseases. They’re “studying whether a well-timed post from a public authority or trustworthy person could be as beneficial as flu shots, hand-washing or sneezing into an elbow.” Cool.
2. This post, highlighting seven unexpected uses for social media, mentions:
- Sickweather, a site that tracks and maps infectious diseases using Facebook and Twitter updates. The site’s founder envisions a day when social media will be used to predict the spread of diseases through the analysis of postings pertaining to events and travel, along with weather patterns and environmental data.
- A study that indicates Facebook is positively impacting homeless people by allowing them to communicate and share online in the same way as anyone else. This decreases their feelings of stigmatization.
- Social media’s effectiveness as a sexual education tool for youth in conservative cultures.
3. The ubiquity of social media and its accessibility to young people is allowing cause-minded youth to speak out and organize support for causes they believe in. As an example, check out this story about Kids Against Animal Cruelty, an animal rescue group started by a 16-year-old.
4. And then there’s this article, outlining the 7 Unexpected Ways Facebook Is Good for You, including such benefits as improving your heart rate, raising company stock prices, increasing worker productivity and decreasing the likelihood that young people will drop out of college.