Social media reaches a wide demographic, overwhelmingly resonating with users within the range of the18-29 age group. Although through extensive research, those who study demographics have been able to pretty much pinpoint the age group most likely to avail itself of all that social media offers, for practical reasons it is impossible, though, to attach a number to how many young people use social media. However, when broken down for purposes of investigation and examination, it has been found that other forums have demonstrated popularity within certain markets of that age-specific demographic. Such factors include: gender, race, education level, income, etc. The umbrella over which all social media exists now becomes more selective in the sense that users have found a more specific, smaller branch with which to identify the most. As a result, when these various and distinct aspects of social media are taken into consideration, it becomes increasingly difficult for it and its users to be lumped together and thus viewed as simply one large community. There are simply too many factors within the context of social media to consider its users as simply being a part of just one group.
And while any analysis of social media can and should be dissected into specific demographics, this still, however, does not limit its effect when it comes to the influence that it has on society. Social media’s importance does not necessarily equate to the size of its audience, but its influence can be measured in its potential to reach an audience far beyond its users, impacting the world beyond such individuals themselves. Social media has the ability to affect non-users as well, given that users have the ability to post information or stories regarding individuals who have no affiliation with it, allowing users to make his or her information public. Social media can also be a catalyst to bring awareness to a story that might eventually lead to non-social media forums –such as the newspaper or television news networks.
The United States still accounts for the largest number of Facebook users despite numbers that disclose that user growth of that particular social media website has slowed down. However, this slowing down by users is clearly not the case when it comes to a significant surge in Facebook growth across the globe. “The fastest growth in social network usage is happening in less-developed markets, however. India, with the highest growth this year, will increase user numbers by 37.4%, while Indonesia’s numbers will climb 28.7% and Mexico will grow its social network user base by 21.1%.” (http://www.emarketer.com/Article/India-Leads-Worldwide-Social-Networking-Growth/1010396#017ICg1X2DI0LtqQ.99)
While social media has a huge global reach, resulting in an influence that has impacted many countries, certain parts of the world have limited accessibility to it. In China, one of the leading economies in the world with a population well over a billion, Facebook is prohibited; the Internet is monitored and regulated by government officials that carefully filter information before it can be “exposed” to the public. China may have its own version of Facebook, but it still, however, does not allow users the same freedom to “share” information, with one another. Certain freedoms that are taken for granted in most countries of the free world –such as freedom of speech –that are still viewed as illegal in China, its use potentially leading to criminal charges.
Social media has become a powerful force in influencing world events. A perfect example of its power may be seen in how it effected regime change in Egypt. The fact that dictators and despots forbid their citizens access to social media only serves to acknowledge the influence of social media. The adage “information is power” is never truer than when it relates to social media. And, from just about all reports, it will only gain more popularity as individuals are able to connect with one another through it.