I remember the times when being social in the Internet was weird thing, the one that separates "normal" people from us the nerds. It was not that acceptable and some even compared it to hikikomori phenomenon, which means the problem among japanese youngsters that lock down to their rooms to play and chat and then die of starvation or dehydration. My social Internet life started in 90s when Internet started to develop rapidly. Some of you may know my very wide background with computers despite of my young age, most of the blaim or praise (how you want to put it) is to my father who is a gadget and computer fanatic just like me.
Internet was groundbreaking for antisocial people. It made them social as well. When shy people or people not so well socially coping people in real life got their hands to Internet they realized how awesome it's to "meet" and "talk" worldwide with people with same intersts, habits and so on. You may find it hard to believe, but I was once one of those "shy" and "anti-social" youngsters and I can say with a good conscience; Internet made me social in real life.
Back then there was no word "social media". It was just IRC (Internet Relay Chat, the oldest instant messaging service in the world, invented by finnish guy Jarkko Oikarinen in 1988) and before that so called BBS (Bulletin Board System, we called it "purkki" in Finland, "a can" or something in english). Then it started to spread to other instant messaging systems and finally to websites, the social media as we know it today.
When the century changed, after year 2000, everyone started using more computers and Internet. Most of the "normal" non-techincal people may remember software like Netmeeting or ICQ. Later Windows Messenger, before word "Live" were pushed between it to form "Windows Live Messenger" after MSN updated itself completely.
Myspace was long one of the only websites for social activity, or only known. At least for americans. For us finnish people, IRC-galleria grew popular among general people as well, which is kind of weird because at its peak only few of the users know what IRC actually means. IRC-galleria was built for IRC users at first, but then it grew enormously large social media community without people having to know anything about IRC.
Then there was Friendster and finally Jaiku which was like Twitter, around 2005-2006. Right after Jaiku, Twitter was born. Facebook was created around 2004-2005 but nobody knew it then since it was a closed community for students back then. After couple of years Facebook was released world wide and took over all the social media.
Everyone forgot most of the services after Facebook, naturally, because for most people there was no need for any other service any longer. I continued using every one of them and I'm still registered in 60+ social media services (lost count a time ago...).
And suddenly it was not weird, nerd-thing or anti-social to use Internet in this way. In fact, it was proper and even suitable. For us nerds and for some loners Internet is now way better place, because it's crowded and full of different opinions. And the most important thing, friends, dates, people, new opportunities.
I challenge you to be social in Internet. If you want to know more about social media history, check out this graph: http://9.mshcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/social-media1.jpg
Roni Laukkarinen, Senior Web Developer & Social Media Expert