This is a great question addressed by Time magazine last week. Although I personally try not to devote too much time to social media, they make a great comparison with the internet and it’s beginnings – “Were Netscape and the Web enhancing our economy, or were people just spending more time at work checking out ESPN.com“? I know it took the older generation a much longer time to adapt to using the internet and the same may be true for social media, but will it be good for everyone? I think most people, at least in developed countries, would agree that the internet is now vital to growth and sales for many businesses, and the same may soon be true for social media. This may look good to some, however, the vast majority of people still do not have access to the internet at all. In the Time magazine article they sum it up quite well:
Like so many things these days, social media contribute to economic bifurcation. Dynamic companies are benefiting from these tools, even if the gains are tough to nail down in specific figures. Many individuals are benefiting too, using LinkedIn to find jobs and Groupon to find deals. But for now, the irony is that social media widen the social divide, making it even harder for the have-nots to navigate. They allow those with jobs to do them more effectively and companies that are profiting to profit more. But so far, they have done little to aid those who are being left behind. They are, in short, business as usual.