Think back. Like, way, way, WAYYYY back. Back to when the fastest way to talk to someone in another location was via carrier pigeon, or the Pony Express, or even good ‘ol fashioned walking a few miles to get to the closest neighbor. For most of us, this is incomprehensible. For many of us, the Pony Express or a carrier pigeon are about as real as unicorns and leprechauns. Why? Because, dear reader, of that bright screen you’re looking at.

You see, in this day and age, if you have the desire to know what 5,4837 x 75,8372, you need to merely say, “hey Siri…” and you’ll have that answer instantaneously. Or if you want to know what the distance is between Iceland and Tanzania, Google will give you the answer within .8 seconds (it’s 5,629.6 miles by the way). And if you want to better understand the Illuminati, Wikipedia provides more answers than you wish to know. We have the ability to talk with someone on the other side of the world, just by typing into a box. This ability to connect and speak with individuals with minimal effort has changed the face of our world as we know it. But just how much change is going on, and what does it mean?

By the Numbers

In a study composed by Hootsuite and We are Social, it was determined that almost 3 billion people are using social media today. That’s almost half of all inhabitants of this ecosystem. So let’s run through some fast facts real quick:

  • It’s estimated that there are 7.5 billion humans
  • Of those, 3.8 billion are internet users
  • Of the 3.8 billion, 3 billion are on social media
  • 5 billion humans access mobile devices

Now I get it, these numbers seem a little indigestible. I mean, 7 billion, 5 billion, 3 billion – they’re all just blurry numbers that sound big, but not too many people completely understand the magnitude of it. So let’s break it down to give you a better idea of this:

  • If you put 7 billion ants on a scale, it would weigh 23 tons (elephants weigh between 2 and 7 tons)*
  • 3.5 billion seconds ago, it was 1907.* That’s over a century ago. Frida Kahlo was born. Nicholas II was Tsar of Russia. WWI would begin in seven years.
  • If you counted numerically from 4 billion to 5 billion, it would take you 30 years.*

Do you get it? It’s a lot.

Why it Matters

Here’s what it boils down to: the connectivity that we experience today is unheard of. We have an infinite amount of information (literally) at our fingertips 24/7. With it, we can educate ourselves on the issues, or begin a modern day (email) pen pal relationship with a stranger, or even teach ourselves a new skill.

But there’s also a downside. QUICK: whats your Grandma’s address? Do you know how to use the scale on a map? Which way is Southeast? Can you answer any of these without looking at your phone, computer or tablet? I know I certainly can’t! The other downside is inevitable and unfortunate: selfies, Facebook live being misused, annoying hashtags, questionably serious comments that make us scratch our heads. But here’s the thing, that’s just part of our world now, and with this beautiful and innovative technology, there’s bound to be a few pitfalls. As with everything in life, you just have to take the bad with the good. At least we’re no longer relying on animals to deliver important messages.

So my dear reader, with all it’s ups and downs, it’s undeniable that social media, the internet and cell phones have reformed the way we think about communicating and connecting with others. No matter if you believe this to be beneficial or retroactive, it’s happening, and it’s happening at a faster pace than we ever thought possible. As Ben Parker would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So I ask you this: you wield a large amount of power with the device that you are looking at, what will you do with it?

*CNN | Just how big is 7 billion?

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