It’s hard to believe that, only a decade ago, social media was little more than a budding trend. Sure, there were websites such as Friendster and MySpace that had a decent level of adoption, but the population as a whole had not come around to it yet.

Fast forward to 2017, and social media has become not only a key part of the modern lifestyle, but a useful marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. Yesterday, a friend commented (on Facebook of course) that her elementary age kids were stunned to know that phones were only used for conversations a few years ago. They were dumbfounded to hear that we didn’t even carry phones with us 15-20 years ago.

This tells me that everything has officially and permanently changed. There is a generation of kids coming up (mine included) who can’t even conceive of a world without smart phones and social networking. It has officially embedded itself in our culture.

As someone who spends nearly every waking hour connected in some way, including both personal and business, this really hits home for me. Let’s look at ways that social media improves our life experience  and also a few ways that it uncovers a few of the more unsightly parts of humanity. Surely you’ll agree on at least some if not all of them.

I remember the days of phones with old style dials. We didn’t even have answering machines back then. If you called someone and they didn’t answer the phone, you had to call back and try to catch them in real time.

When a call came in, there was no caller ID. You just picked it up and said, “Hello.” It was sometimes hard to catch up to people, so you had to hand write and send a letter to communicate when you were both leading busy lives.

Today, if you can’t catch someone on the phone, you can leave a voice mail or send a text. Or even better, tweet, Facebook message, or touch base in some other means. You can see what others are doing within seconds of them doing it, assuming they share it on a social network of some sort. It’s not hard to catch up with someone if they want you to find them. Kids have no idea how convenient this is in our daily lives (privacy concerns aside).

Similar to the phone situation I just spelled out, it was extremely difficult to access a globally reaching platform where one could share their opinions or findings back a mere 25 years ago. it was a huge deal to send in a letter to the editor to a local newspaper, and have them actually decide to include the letter in the paper.

Today, all we have to do is login to our platform of choice. We can rant, rave, kumbaya, tell jokes, share images, and generally mix and mingle to our heart’s content. For those of us who can write, it takes only a couple of minutes to create a new blog and start putting our thoughts into words. And those thoughts could grow legs of their own once the social sphere grabs hold of them.

It is far easier to do something remarkable and noticeable, and have it reach people across the planet, than it has been at any time in our history. We now have truly globalized voices. What a privilege!

Like the adage goes: “Don’t feed the trolls.” The more attention you give to this behavior, the more the person spewing it feels compelled to continue the behavior. Let’s focus our attention on the positive sometimes, because the negative gets old and tired.

Rouf Ahmed Can be reached at