The Internet has never been subject to a singular definition. It has come a long way from its humble military origin in the early 60s to the counterculture in the 80s (Curran et al., 2012).
Apart from the instant access to, well, everything, what did the Internet give us? A whole new way of communication.
The ultimate commodity: social media. They too started off quite differently compared to where they are now. It is due to technological development and the revolution of the user.
But first, some history.
With the advent of Web 2.0, later an infrastructure, a significant change occurred: global online environment shifted from the concept of utility of data to customized services, which would generate a specific outcome (Dijck, 2013).
The scene was now set. Social media were ready to rise and efficiently ‘occupy’ our time.
It all began with a simple idea: bring people’s everyday interactions online. Create a platform for the distribution of content among people. ‘Connect and engage.’
It was a remarkable success.
Finally, it would seem, the time of total user domination has come. But it did not last. For by providing the so desired ‘two-way’ communication (Dijck, 2013), the efficiency of the Internet and the social media platforms within it triggered the arrival of commercial interest, which recognized the potential for long-term profit.
What were social media? What have they become?
Maybe none, maybe all. Or maybe we are still searching for a definition.
Until then, we can only heavily sigh at the corner of our little cyberspace balloon: ‘Oh, Internet . . . What have you done?’