It’s one thing to speculate about the media environment in a location and it’s quite another to visit that location and get a look on the ground. I had the opportunity to spend several days in Rome in early September 2016.
The addiction to mobile phones and to FaceBook in particular appears to be an international phenomenon. In wandering through Rome in shops and tourist spots alike, almost everyone was glued to their phone.
Entrepreneurs were selling mobile phone clamps attached to ‘selfie sticks’ and to tripods so that tourists could capture their latest adventures. Of greater interest was the fact that almost every phone I could take a look at was set to FaceBook.
It seemed like everyone - couples, individuals, taxi/limo drivers, etc. were all hooked on FB. While the preponderance of the people were in the 30s and 40s, the FB addiction was not limited to those under 40 as ‘even’ seniors were updating their status.
Moving afloat to our cruise ship, either the price of shipboard internet access is lower (at least in proportion to other costs) or the need for constant connection is stronger than it was in 2010 when we took our last cruise because almost everyone has their mobile phone with them – even at sea!
Not to be outdone the cruise line encourages people to update their FB status and share their photos on FB, Twitter, etc.
Of course, Rome is not a typical location, and probably not a place where we would engage in PSYOP or MISO, however, the addiction to mobile phones and Social Media is a critical factor in winning the cyber influence battles of the future.
While Social Media is a mostly benign way for people to communicate, let's not lose sight of the potential for harm or evil as well. We are all mindful of the fact that airplanes were not considered weapons until 15 years ago today.