The Possibility of Social Media
// Posted by Bridget on 03/24/2012 (10:34 PM)
While purusing various TED talks, I came across a very interesting and relevant one to the current issues we’ve been looking at. Clay Shirky (author of Here Comes Everybody) gives a very interesting talk called “How Social Media Can Make History.” In this talk, Shirky uses the event of China’s 2008 earthquake to illustrate the immense power of social media. Before news channels were even aware of this monumental event, Chinese citizens were using their phones to upload news in pictures, video, Tweets, etc. This instantaneous communication between people and larger media networks shows the huge power social medias (that we often take for granted) give us.
However, news of the earthquake was not the only issue transferred via social media networks at this time. When the earthquake happened, many schools collapsed, killing many children. Upon further investigation, Chinese protests formed among citizens in response to the horrific truths that were revealed – approved by officials, schools were being built to less than code. Huge protests began, and social media was not only censored by the Chinese government, but shut down completely.
Do you think we (our generation of Americans) will ever learn to utilize social media in a way to communicate news or protest? Or, do you think the mass majority of us will continue to utilize sites like Twitter for our own entertainment. If the government stripped our social media access, like China did, would we change the way we use them? Would we feel differently about social media networks and how we use them? While the United States is a very free nation, especially with regard to our Internet capabilities, many countries (notably China) limit their citizens’ accessibility to the web. Maybe we shouldn’t take sites like Twitter (which proves to be a very powerful communication tool) for granted, or only use it for leisure purposes, when other people may depend on it.