With the proliferation of digital technology in the late 20th century and early 21st century, communication has never been more personal and powerful. The first cell phone came about in 1984, and the mode progressed rapidly in the 1990s. Now, along with the Internet, myriad communication tools are available.
The days when people used landlines as their primary communication tool are over. Back then, cell phones were thought of as a luxury. Now, wireless phones are a dominant form of communication in many countries. Text messaging is rampant, and the advent of the smartphone has enabled mobile phones to have PC functionality as well as the functionality to send large pictures and video files. The use of a hand-held device is nearly antiquated, as Bluetooth devices allows users to speak hands-free.
In 1965, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers and staff first used email. They sent one another internetwork messages. Now, it is quite rare to come across someone without at least one email account. Email is a function of the Internet, and users can access it from myriad devices, including cell phones; PDAs; and, of course, computers. Email is virtually instant, much like all modern communication modes.
Twitter is in essence a form of mass communication, as messages get spread to many recipients. Twitter is a social medium in that it enables instant interaction among users, who can communicate directly and "retweet" other Twitterer messages. Facebook is a social media platform similar to its predecessor MySpace. Facebook has numerous functions and benefits and allows users to communicate on a one-on-one basis or to large groups. Picture uploads are a promiment feature of Facebook and allow for digital record keeping, for free. As of 2011, Facebook has more than 600 million users.
Instant Messaging and Skype
Instant messaging saw its peak early in the 21st century before the rise of more interactive social media platforms. Instant messaging is still prevalent, however, as Yahoo, America Online and MSN have successful services. Instant messaging is done most often on keyboards over the Internet. Skype offers online calling, messaging and video calling all across the world via the Internet. Skype is a hybrid free-paid service and charges for its calling and video calling services.