The advent of social media has brought about an increasing innovative power of social media that even the avid cynic cannot but acknowledge. Currently, erstwhile fears that the new technology would likely replace the rich culture of human interaction, as well as the sense of belonging in the physical world, seemed doused. The emerging navigation within virtual space and its continuous usage has provided the opportunity to explore man’s creative genius. Social media comes in many different flavours. Thankfully, avid consumers of media content or converts to social media-use are growing exponentially. For instance, in the field of social marketing, new media places a plethora of opportunities in the hands of business owners to choose which medium to market their products. It is no wonder that a blogger, Pamela Bump disclosed that: “Over 97 percent of marketers are now using social media to engage with their customers.”
Self-development experts like Brian Tracy argue that each one is born with the potential for exceptional creativity. To be sure, social media presents people chances to be creative. In this direction, examples are rife. For instance, Facebook seduces its users with the slogan, “What’s on your mind?” This is what this writer refers to as creative conceptualization. In like manner, YouTube offers one the chance to broadcast himself or herself by giving a trial to what is conceived. In a related development, Instagram advertises and develop one’s skills in photography and so on. Social media keeps evolving with new features – this year saw the emergence of a new social channel, TikTok which is enjoying popularity. This gives social networking sites more appeal for creative activities and patronage.
Online platforms are used to create and share ideas, opinions, experiences and content such as videos, photos, music etc. Its users prefer to connect to such platforms to access information, ideas and inspiration. Advances in social media technology have transited from sharing of information on different platforms to showcasing talents and innovations. For example, LinkedIn provides a business-wise platform where users can add their resumes, talents, skills, projects and also seek employment. Twitter is an art which develops ones’ writing skills. One cannot but recognize the literary merit of tweets. Applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn were built to provide a confluence for people to interact, share views and work in collaboration.
Rafiq Elmansy, a social media analyst, is of the opinion that social media has come to substitute the traditional peer group of learning. He contends that these platforms present an opportunity to share and generate ideas at one’s leisure without much restriction while noting that ideas easily flow when people of the same interest share content or ideas and interact with one another. Importantly too, the generation of ideas elicited by social media-use also facilitates teamwork. Inaku Egere, an expert in broadcasting seems to support this view when he maintained that teamwork helps producers of media content to generate ideas towards fostering successful productions. He argues that the group-nature of social media avails such chance for creativity.
Available evidence points to the fact that the diffusion of innovation is a social process. To this end, the adoption of a particular innovation by an individual is largely restricted by the behaviours of the social group. Everyone has the potential to be innovative and entrepreneurial. That is why creativity is simply understood as “improvement.” To be creative is to improve on extant knowledge or ideas. A person does not need to be a professor, consultant or artist to be creative. All that is needed is to develop the ability to improve on your capabilities, environment and situation wherever you are and in whatever you are doing. All great feats started as ideas. Thomas Edison, one of the most successful creative geniuses in human history once said: “Creativity is 99 percent perspiration and only 1 percent inspiration.”
In comparison to traditional media, social media is a new technology that has quickly endeared itself to many people. Little wonder, it has become part of a person’s daily life. Notwithstanding its many advantages, the new technology has its flaws. Common among them is an addiction which can lead to significant loss of energy. It can reduce one’s productive and creative-thinking capacity. Another challenge is that overindulging in the Internet facilitated medium kills quality time that is supposed to use in other important aspects of life. This is due to giving undue attention to feedbacks received from comments, likes and shares. We must admit that some available information on social media are not authentic – if mistakenly adopted, they can reduce one’s skills and ability to be innovative. Hence, it becomes counter-productive thereby paving way for cybercrimes.
Everett Rogers, the founder of Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory came up with four basic features that are key to the generation of ideas namely, compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability. Commentary on this in his article, “User-generated platforms,” Koren (2010) argued that these characteristics play an important role in persuading an individual to take to social networking. From the foregoing, we have seen that although social media has some negative effects on person’s ability to be innovative because of its addictive attractions and significant loss of time, researchers seem to agree that being social media savvy and not throwing caution to the wind can create the difference. As such, man’s creative genius is crucial to enhancing new technology. Indeed, it avails us the opportunity to be consistent, interact with one another, acquire knowledge, make observations and trials and most importantly, share ideas and information.
Fr. Malachy Wache is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Yola currently a Masters Student specializing in Pastoral Communication at the Centre for the Study of African Culture and Communication (CESACC), Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.