The impact that social media has had enormous – almost worryingly so. While the advent of social media should be considered an overall net positive, there are a number of aspects that keep it from escaping scrutiny.
Before anyone can get into the specifics of what is so troubling about social media, one should take a moment to consider how powerful it truly is. In the past five years alone, the world has seen developments that have been next-to-impossible without social media.
Take, for instance, the Iranian presidential election, and its subsequent protests, in 2009. In a time when many foreign journalists were not able to broadcast any developments from the country, amateur photographs and videos posted on the internet were instrumental in the global perception of the election.
In just the last few months, there has been an ongoing, international solidarity between thousands of citizens that could not have had its present effetcs without social media to keep everyone informed – the Occupy Movement.
It is not just monumental protests that social media has influenced, aspects that make us essential as human beings – communication, perception of the world, etc. – have in some way been influenced by social media.
The amount of effort it takes to find information on any current subject is negligible, and the correspondence between two international partners is instant.
Every aspect of social media projects immediacy, and therein lies a few of its problems.
Because absolutely anyone with regular access to an internet-enabled device can make a social media account of some sort, it means a wide variety of posts can reach the world – and not all of them have any bearing of tolerance.
There are countless numbers of posts regarding any sort of topic that make efforts to hurt someone in some way, and because it is on the internet, there is a very good chance of that happening.
Besides that, there is a huge problem with misinformation reaching a large number of people that has led some less-than-commendable occasions. For a recent example, one does not need to look any further than the Trayvon Martin case.
For the past month, there have been numerous accounts of what exactly happened during the incident spread around through social media – and disturbingly major news outlets. Just last week, filmmaker Spike Lee re-tweeted the address of what he thought was the house of George Zimmerman, which was in actuality the house of an elderly couple.
It is all too easy to post any information dealing with anything, and it often leads to a cycle of confusion, ignorance, and animosity.
Now obviously there is no way that present-day society can forcibly revert to an era without technology, nor would it be necessarily wise to do. Social media is a powerful tool and it needs to be treated as such – with calm demeanor and rational thought.