When you think about it, it is funny how sometimes you can take social media and smartphones for granted. Right now, they seem like they have always been here, are always here, and will always be here. However, when you look at it holistically, the social media and smartphones have disrupted how we do things.
Some entrepreneurs have raised business empires via smartphones and social media. Think of the many SMEs and startups promoting and selling their products on social media from smartphones. It has opened up, made cheaper, and brought services closer to the people; all people.
“The internet can deliver the entirety of human knowledge to a young girl in a remote village on a single handheld device,” said US President Obama while addressing the delegates at the UN General Assembly.
When Obama took office in 2009, it was 18 months after the launch of the first iPhone. Social media platforms like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter were just starting out, and although they were popular. The number of active users was a far cry from the numbers we have today. Things like WhatsApp and Instagram were completely non-existent.
Today, when Obama is addressing his last UN General Assembly as the President of the United States and barely a decade later. Social networks have become a powerful platform for fostering revolution and enlightening people all over the world especially through affordable connections on smartphones. Consumers have a plethora of smartphone choice from the recently launched iPhone 7 to the many versions of Android, Windows, Firefox, Symbian, and BlackBerry smartphones to mention a few.
“Smartphones … are a lifeline and at times the bane of our existence,” said Obama. “Phones and social media have connected the world in ways that were unimaginable when I took office.”
Over his almost eight years in the Oval Office, Obama has witnessed the power of social media and smartphones change political landscape both in his country and abroad. These tools played a pivotal role in the organizing of the Arab Spring protests that toppled iron-fist regimes in the Arab nations. It helped the Syrian refugees flee their country following the explosion of civil war.
Domestically, social media and smartphone have contributed to highlighting the racial tensions in his country. There are numerous incidences of camera phone recording showing racially instigated police brutality and the aftermath civilian unrest and protest against racial discrimination in the United States.
“An explosion of social media has given ordinary people more ways to express themselves and has raised people’s expectations for those of us in power,” said Obama.
Obama sentiments on social media and smartphones was also echoed by Ban Ki-moon, who was also addressing his last UN General Assembly as the UN Secretary General. Ki-moon reiterated on the amazing accomplishments protesters were able to achieve during the Arab Spring all thanks to social media and smartphones.