Is Social Media an Operating System For Humans?

How do you define social media? My definition? An Operating System for humans.

The parallels between a computer operating system’s DNA and how Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms interlink is closer than you’d think. As in The Matrix, because you’re inside, it hard to see how it operates.

Why Social Media is an Operating System For Humans?

One way to start is to define what is social media…

Let’s define computer Operating systems and then see if it matches how we understand social media.

An Operating System is defined as:

  • Software that supports a computer’s basic functions, such as scheduling tasks, executing applications, and controlling peripherals. [Google]
  • …without an operating system, a user cannot run an application program on their computer, unless the application program is self booting. [Wikipedia]
  • …are multiuser, multiprocessing, multitasking, multithreading, and real-time operating systems. [WiseGeek]

Social Media is defined as:

  • …a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate. [Gartner]
  • Digital content and interaction that is created by and between people. Sam Decker – Mass Relevance
  • Extends engagement by creating real-time online events, extending online interactions offline, or augmenting live events online. Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies
  • Online communications in which we shift instantly and easily between the role of audience and creator – without needing to know how to code. We do this by using social software that incorporates functions like publishing, sharing, friending, commenting, linking and tagging. Joe Thornily

Social Media – The Human Operating System

Can you see the threads they have in common?

…multiuser, multiprocessing, multitasking, multithreading, and real-time operating systems

Social media networks allow us to:

  • Where we share information across different platforms in real time
  • Respond, engage, like/dislike, connect/disconnect to form stronger bonds with other members of the network
  • Use different personas to engage on different levels

And, most importantly, would feel lost if exiled from the system.


Social media is no longer a fad but a necessity. It’s hard for me to live without it. There’s an emotional itch that needs to be scratched.

Do we struggle emotionally when our social media operating systems were taken away from us?

Is our personal identify increasingly based on how others respect our social media ‘persona’?

One final question.

Which do you put more energy into? How others perceive you online or off-line. Before you hit Reply, think about it for a moment…

Before we go. It’s your turn.

Social media is ________________