Food For Thought: Where Would We Be Today Without Social Media?

How would your world, and the world as a whole be different without Twitter and Facebook?

Do you ever think about where we would be today if it wasn’t for social networks?  What would be going on in the world if we didn’t have Twitter and Facebook?  Where would get our workday entertainment if not for YouTube?  A conversation I had yesterday about how Facebook and Twitter have changed the world got me thinking, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you, our readers, to see what other people think.

Currently a huge protest is going on in Israel, where I live.  Over 150,000 people have taken to the streets all over the country in demonstrations, which began as a protest for affordable housing and has turned into a massive social demonstration against high prices and taxes, low wages and more.  How did the protest start?  On Facebook, of course.  It all began when a young woman from Tel Aviv was forced to leave her apartment when the landlord raised her rent.  She created a Facebook event to publicize the fact that, starting on July 14, she would be pitching a tent and living on Rothschild Boulevard, a popular location in central Tel Aviv.  Over two weeks later hundreds of tents have been pitched, filling Rothschild Boulevard and other boulevards throughout Tel Aviv and in other cities in Israel.

The reason I share this story is because this protest, and its roots on Facebook, is what sparked my conversation yesterday and has really got me thinking.  Protests like this, and the Twitter and Facebook-planned protests throughout the Middle East earlier this year and in Iran during the 2009 elections simply wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Facebook and Twitter.  Without these tools, what would the world look like today?

Israelis would probably still be complaining to friends and family about high rent prices but not taking action (at least not in the numbers they are today), Mubarak would still be in power in Egypt and not caged in the middle of a courtroom on trial, the Iranian protests in 2009 would likely have been quietly stifled, with little awareness abroad that anything had even happened.  It’s crazy when you think about it, isn’t it?

Social networks have opened up so many doors and allowed for so much to happen, both good and bad.  And I think it is so interesting (and a little creepy) to think about where we would be today if we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social sites.  I put together a list of ten of the ways the world would be different without these sites (some more serious than others).  Check them out below and please share your own ideas with me!

1. Much of the success of Obama’s presidential campaign relied on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  If not for social media, he might not be President of the United States today.

2. If not for Facebook and Twitter, many revolutions (including the recent revolutions in the Middle East) would not have happened.  The Middle East would be in an entirely different political state than it is today.

3. If not for YouTube and Twitter, the story of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was killed in the Iranian election protests, would have never been shared and spread and odds are the protests would have ended before they even began, with the rest of the world oblivious.  Click here to watch an interesting documentary about Neda.

4. If not for Twitter and YouTube, Charlie Sheen wouldn’t be #Winning.  He would just be a crazy out-of-work actor that people talked about for a couple of days before forgetting.

5.  Facebook provides easy evidence for four out of every five divorces. If the site weren’t around, the lawyers would have to spend more time finding proof for their clients; cases would take longer to complete and both plaintiffs and defendants would end up paying heftier legal fees.

6.  Without social media, not nearly as much money would have been donated to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year.

7.  Twitter helped save lives in the Haiti earthquake disaster.  Without it, many of the victims that were found alive and trapped thanks to Twitter may not have survived.

8.  Without YouTube teenage girls wouldn’t have Justin Bieber to fawn over.  He would be just another kid with a talent for singing and drumming on tables.

9.  These days we keep in touch with everyone on Facebook—even people we were never great friends with.  At our high school reunions we know what everyone is up to, where they live, and more before they’ve even opened their mouths.  Without social media, high school reunions would still be surprising.

10. The Israeli couple that named their baby daughter “Like” would have gone with a different name—probably Milk or Cake, based on the fact that their other children are named Honey and Pie.  Same goes for the Egyptian man that named his daughter “Facebook.”

Finally, I should point out that if we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, YouTube and other sites, what happens in Vegas really would stay in Vegas.  How would your world, and the world as a whole be different without Twitter and Facebook?  Please share your ideas in the comments below!

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.