Social networking has spread around the world with remarkable speed. In countries such as Britain, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic and Spain, about half of all adults now use Facebook and similar websites. These sites are also popular in many lower-income nations, where, once people have access to the internet, they tend to use it for social networking.

Meanwhile, cell phones have become nearly ubiquitous throughout much of the world, and people are using them in a variety of ways, including texting and taking pictures. Smart phones are also increasingly common – roughly half in Britain, the U.S., and Japan have one. Globally, most smart phone users say they visit social networking sites on their phone, while many get job, consumer, and political information.

Technologies like these are especially popular among the young and well educated. In almost every country polled, people under age 30 and those with a college education are more likely to engage in social networking and to use a smart phone.

Ryan Tate:

If you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, thank your smartphone and tablet: Americans’ social media use is on track to spike 37 percent this year, driven by a near doubling of consumption on mobile apps, according to a new Nielsen study.

The biggest social networks are seeing mobile use explode while desktop computer use remains relatively flat, according to a year-end Nielsen survey of social media consumption. Mobile app usage spiked 88 percent on Facebook this year and 134 percent on Twitter. In contrast, desktop use shrank 4 percent on Facebook and grew just 13 percent on Twitter.

You know, in case you hadn’t heard.

When I rise to power, those people will be sterilized.

— Sheldon Cooper

I’m sorry, that sounds drastic. Believe me, I’d never daydream about something as terrible as rising to power.

Seriously, though. Now, I just wonder: when is all this meta-fascination going to end? By that, I mean the fixation on the shiny objects themselves, the means by which we tell each other that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough. When will the mere presence of a social network or a smartphone app no longer be enough of a hook to hang an entire non-story upon? By how many degrees can we amplify the basic changes initially wrought by the telegraph before the mere fact of doing so ceases to be noteworthy?