When I moved to Oregon nearly 14 years ago some friends I had met told me we were in the information age.  What?  I thought we have always been in the information age. Haven’t we?  Did they know something I didn’t?  It excited me but I still couldn’t comprehend what they were talking about.

Photo of my laptop at a restaurant taken with the camera on my phone while writing my column

Photo of my laptop at a restaurant taken with the camera on my phone while writing my column

Now I do.  I live on my computer.  I am smack dab in the center of the information age.  Social networking.  I write for an online paper, I have two online businesses selling products all over the world.  I am never far from my phone (I never dreamed in a million years I would be able to talk on a cordless phone, let alone see someone live while I’m doing it)

I was killing time and surfing around on Facebook one night when I began to see all of these messages on my page about our government shutting down.  When I inquired, all I got were more jokes about it.  I asked a friend of mine and she explained that the house parties couldn’t agree on how to do things or come to an agreement, so the solution to their problem was to shut down.  It still floors me that this can happen.

I decided to do a little investigating on the subject and was shocked at what I found.  Google and I have become fast friends over these last few years.  Our government has shut down before, many times.  The most recent was 17 years ago.  Take a look at what I found.

In 1976 while President Ford was in office our government shut down for 10 days.  During President Carters term in office our government shut down 5 times for a total of 58 days between 1977, 78 and 79. The Reagan administration tops that off at 8 times but for a shorter period of time; only 14 days. During President George H.W. Bush term, in 1990 for 3 days and during President Clinton’s term, 2 times for a total of 26 days in 1995 and 1996.  Including our most recent closure during President Obama’s term of 16 days, our government has been shut down for a grand total of 126 days.

That amazes me.  Seventeen years ago there wasn’t this big of an “uproar” when the government shut down for 21 days (Or was there?  Are we just more aware of it now?) I believe it is because we are the age of communication.  Thank you to a few social media avenues, we are in the know. If we don’t know something all we have to do is turn to our computers.

Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown 2013 Image | ABCNews.go.com

Telephone calls and writing evolved into emails and texting; social media started to become popular when Myspace was founded in 2003. Worlds opened up and people got in touch with each other almost instantly.  Myspace employed 1600 people in the beginning but that number has unfortunately declined dramatically over the years.  Myspace has 50 million users and can be translated in 14 different languages.  The current owners of Myspace are Tim Vanderhook and Justin Timberlake.

Facebook came along just a year later in 2004 and took the lead over Myspace in social media in 2009. Facebook employs over 5000 people and is translated in 70 different languages today.  It’s Alexa rating (shows how many visitors per month to a particular site) is -2.  The top site; Google.  The worlds largest utilized subsidiary of Facebook, (you might recognize this name) Instagram.   Instagram came along in October of 2010 and within two years Facebook had acquired the company for 1 billion dollars in cash and stock.  Awesome move on their part.  As of March 2013, Facebook has 1.15 billion users.

Twitter was founded in 2009.  I remember signing up for this but had no idea what it was and thought it was a waste of time, honestly.  Only because I have a lot to say and it is hard for me to say it in only 120 characters.  So I let it go for a few years.  I use Twitter today.  Alexa rank is -11.  Someone is doing something right.  Twitter released Vine in January of this year.  It is a free mobile app (application) allowing its users to record a short 6 second clip of video and post it to Twitter or Facebook.

One of the first video games was called Pong (you can play it if you click on the link; oh boy does that bring me back).  When I was a kid we used to sit in front of a television with a joy stick controller, our eyes focused on a dot as if we were watching a tennis match, a little cursor that could only move up and down, knocking the little dot across to the other side.  Now look what we can do, wireless!

“For some peace and quiet, how about a phone-less cord” 

Social Media we are the age of communication

Social Media Image | Kyforward.com

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined we would ever be able to talk on a phone while we carried it around with us wherever we went or that we would have the ability to take photographs with it and within moments those photographs could be seen around the world.

I look at elderly people and my curiosity runs away from me wondering all that they have seen in their lifetimes and were they like me?  Could they have ever guessed there would be a man on the moon?  That a car would run on electricity or that computers would be small enough to sit on our laps or that we would some day hold them in our hands?

Newspapers have been around forever; the earliest known is approximately dating back to 1605. By 2007 there were just over 6500 daily newspapers selling 395 million print copies each day. During the global recession in late 2008 and early 2010, that number dropped dramatically and is shifting to online publications.  We are in the information age.  I can only imagine what lies in store for our future. I am excited; are you?

See you online!