Origins of ordinary things: Social media

The mode of communication has greatly evolved over time. During ancient times, if you wanted to send a message you’d have to do it in person or you’d have to send a messenger. Later, this evolved to the use of letters whereby a horse and a rider would deliver messages over long distances. In 1792, the telegraph was invented to allow ease of communication across long distances. This is according to Wikipedia, an encyclopedia.

Still, according to knowledge dissemination website Research Gate, it wasn’t until the invention of the telephone in 1876 and later, radio signals, that it became possible for people to communicate instantaneously across long distances.  When the most modern version of a computer was invented in the 1940s, scientists worked harder to create networks so that people would be able to share information. This resulted in the existence of the internet. Early forms of the internet allowed people to send newsletters to each other.

More and more people started buying computers for their homes and by 1989, early forms of social media platforms called ‘Internet Relay Charts’ were in existence.

However, Six Degrees which was created by Andrew Weinreich, an American serial entrepreneur in 1997, was the first to be recognised as a social media site. For the first time, users could create a profile and make friends. This is according to History Cooperative, an online education platform.

In 1999, American programmer Brad Fitzpatrick created Live Journal, a social media platform through which people could keep their friends updated about their lives. This is according to the website Social Media Today.

The creation of social media platforms in the 1990s was constrained by the fact that the use of social media was seen as a hobby and since internet access was still low, very few people were able to use the social platforms that were available during this time.

In the early 2000s when more and more people gained access to the internet, web developers started coming up with social media platforms that were suited for different audiences. For instance LinkedIn was created as a network for professionals.  The most popular social media platforms today are Twitter and Facebook. Developers have now made it possible to link social media platforms so that if someone shares information on their account on one platform, it can automatically be shared on their account on another platform. This is according to Digital Trends, a website for technology news.  Today, the use of social media is no longer considered a mere hobby. People use social media platforms to promote their businesses, connect with long lost friends and express their opinions on different subject matters.


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