The Possibility of Social Media

// Posted by 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.

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Ali S said...

I think in some ways we already use sites like twitter and Facebook to get important information across. Like the shooting of Trayvon Martin most people wouldn’t have heard of it unless they saw it on social media website. Someone re-tweets then you see it, they re-tweet it and so one. Soon everyone knows. Facebook pages are created and it goes from a few thousand to millions know. I think we will always use them more to post witty statues and funny photos but important information does get around on them.

// 03/27/2012 at 10:16 pm

Allison said...

I agree with Ali. I think most people use social media as a news source, but I also see what Bridget is saying. We all heard about the Trayvon Martin situation through Facebook in Twitter, but it was not like the earthquake case when where people were tweeting about it before the professional news media found it. People usually hear about things on the news before they actively use social media to report about it.

// 03/27/2012 at 10:58 pm

Phylicia said...

Perhaps the OWS movement can be the American example of utilizing social media for protest. Honestly, I found out about OWS through Facebook. A friend I was abroad with living in Boston posted about it. After reading the status, I began to research in Virginia. OWS was unique in that many news stations were not reporting about it. For a while, OWS was quelled because it was not able to surpass the barriers of the news. It was social media (such as Facebook and I’m sure Twitter) that allowed the news of OWS to spread. The truth about OWS was found to be one of the top ten Most Ignored Stories of 2011 by WND politics readers and editors. I think it can be argued that more truth about OWS was provided through avenues of social media than news.

// 03/27/2012 at 11:54 pm