I would honestly say that social media is not just a fad but really is the biggest shift since the industrial revolution. My reason for this conclusion is social media has completely changed the way society operates by changing the way people communicate and share information. For example people can communicate with other people in a very causal and informal manner. This also allows people that are far away from each other to develop and maintain high level relationships. Before the invention of social media doing these things would be much more difficult and perhaps not possible at all. An example of this would be having a friend in Egypt and only being able to talk to him through conventional means such as phone, mail etc. The problem is calling someone long distance costs a lot of money and with mail you don’t really get a true sense of how the person is truly living. You don’t get to learn how they are feeling from an hour to hour basis. You also don’t get to see as many pictures of the things they are doing. Not to mention you and your other friends cannot communicate with that person as easily and receive all the same benefits mentioned above. In conclusion social media has changed the way people communicate which puts it on the same level as the industrial revolution for changing the way people communicate as well because the telephone was invented and was made available to the general population during the industrial revolution.
Just like the industrial revolution which changed the way people work, social media has done the same thing. Social media has vastly expanded the e-commerce industry by allowing marketing personnel to market their products much more effectively online due to the increased amount of social media users. Companies can now open up their own social media accounts and better communicate special sales and discounts to people. Essentially social media has changed the marketing industry which puts in on the same level as the industrial revolution for changing the manufacturing industry.
I'm not the only one who agrees how important and life changing social media has become, check out this article by the CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/episodes/2011/06/20/vancouver-riots-signal-new-era-for-social-media/