Happy Indepence Day

originally posted on Concept Hub

Today American’s celebrate our Independence. On July 4th, 1776 the first signatures were placed on the document that declared America’s Independence from the British Empire. In all the years, decades, centuries following that fateful day, Americans have held on to the ideas of a self-determined life.

The new government that was envisioned by the men who were committing treason was a government that would be responsible to the will of the people.

In 1783, a mere 7 years later,  the Treaty of Paris was signed granting Americans their new land.

You may be thinking right about now “Hey Sherry, thanks for the history lesson, but isn’t this blog about social media?”

Yes, it is. And nothing captures the true spirit of social media like the spirit of Revolution. I am sure we could have long debates about whether or not a blog or a tweet should be compared to the American Revolution after all, social media is not bloody treason, but it was most definitely treason at one time.

Do you recall the first time you heard of a “blog.” I know many of the people who read this blog and for many of you, I saw your reactions.

“Blooog” you would say with distasteful humor, “what’s a blog?” At one sales presentation, I was asked: “why would I care what a blogger would write, aren’t they all whack jobs anyway?”

Yet in 2004 it was bloggers who challenged the accuracy of the Killian documents that were critical of George W. Bush. That challenge ultimately weakened the stronghold that mainstream media had on news stories.

Through the next couple of years, bloggers and other revolutionaries such as Craigslist began to hurt the mainstream media financially. If they were not directly taking advertising dollars, they were taking away readers.

These bloggers did not just collaborate through the various online communication channels either, they were meeting in smokey bar rooms, and pizza joints. They started having conferences or being a bit rebellious, what they termed as un-conferences.

If the bloggers could be a challenge to mainstream media, who could be next? Business? Politics? Entertainment? Would anyone be safe?

The number of bloggers was growing, but it was still a channel for the dedicated writer which kept the average person powerless to participate.

In 2007, Twitter was introduced to the participants of SXSW. I remember the first time I heard about Twitter. It was at my own revolutionary un-conference, SoCon07. Amber Rhea, a fellow revolutionary, was standing in the hall looking at her laptop saying what is Twitter. We all signed up for this new service within a few days. We did not know what it would do or what we would do with it, but it definitely seemed revolutionary.

If people thought bloggers were “whack jobs” they really did not have much respect from anyone on Twitter.

In May 2007, I recall reading a blog that considered Twitter a waste of time.  Many people commenting on the blog were once critical of blogging. I wonder how many of those same people are now on Twitter?

The revolution was turning into an evolution. Social Media was available to the masses. You can blog, you can tweet, you can post a video, photo or a podcast, you can connect with friends on Facebook.

More importantly, you have the freedom of choice. You can choose where to get your news and reviews, you can choose when and how to be entertained. You can choose to add your voice to a debate or simply make a statement by joining a group or sharing someone else’s thoughts.

Can social media change the world? Can it have as big of an impact as the American Revolution?

I sincerely believe so.

It is a revolution or an evolution that connects the world in such a way that we can learn about the real stories happening in faraway places like Iran. It has been credited with giving power to the people in such a way that America was able to elect our first black President. It has enabled collaboration that has sparked new revolutionary ideas, and it has continuously exposed corruption and bad practices forcing businesses and politicians to act better or get out of the game.

It’s your world. You have the freedom and ability to make a difference. You have a voice that can be heard around the world. What will you do with such power?