“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” ~Albert Einstein

As computers became mainstream in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, so did new forms of communication such as message boards, chat rooms, forums and even video chat. The internet allowed various people from around the world to interact arbitrarily from the comfort of their own homes. Despite many of these forums and chat rooms dying off during the stock market dotcom bubble of 2001, their impact on how people connect with each other is still felt today in the form of social media. Sites and platforms today such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat likewise allow for strangers and non-strangers alike to interact. While the old aim message boards of the early days allowed and even encouraged people to connect to each other in unique ways, a multitude of present-day social media sites have commercialized and monetized the social lives of individuals around the world.

When social media started to gain popularity, people began to put information about themselves online that they would not have previously otherwise divulged. The anonymous nature of early 2000’s message boards began to fade away as names, birthdates, addresses and even political orientation took center stage on Facebook and Twitter. Previously, if someone wanted to know where the president stood on issues of trade, they’d have to dig through lengthy television or radio interviews in hopes of finding relevant information. Nowadays, that same information is only two clicks away on Twitter. Social media is useful to a society because it exponentially increases the flow of information, enabling individuals to become more connected to others and their surroundings. Although it is in someways beneficial to humanity, it is also potentially detrimental to the way people interact. It’s understood that Facebook and similar platforms have a tremendous ability to shape mass opinion in unprecedented ways. For example, it is widely accepted that Russian propagandists were able to take advantage of Facebook’s collection of political affiliation data in order to generate political ads for the purpose of swaying opinion on Russia related issues. Moreover, the “viral” nature of news today makes it very simple for information to travel.