Is social media the devil in disguise?
The ills of Facebook are legendary – the lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and abuse of personal information for sales. Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it has become a part of our culture.
Media, social or otherwise, has long been controversial. The US Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press in the First Amendment established in 1791. The freedom of the press was universally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. There have also been laws passed to prohibit abuses of these freedoms – libel being the most noted example. The press has had some notable influence in the United States when the “checks and balances” system has suffered. The rise of Joseph McCarthy to almost unassailable power in post-Nazi America in the ’50s was checked by Edward R. Murrow who pioneered broadcast journalism when television was new. Murrow, on his show “See It Now” exposed McCarthy when the formal processes failed.
Like Edward R. Murrow with the use of new technology, will we allow social media to form us or will we form social media to our needs and best interests?
So what are the advantages of Facebook? Among other things, my friends who regularly post to my wall are all media-savvy and I stay more up-to-date on the news than before. I have found long-lost high school and college friends and I’m once again involved in their lives. I keep up with my brother’s children who are all grown and leading their own lives now. I keep up with distant family members as well. Social media, like any other instrument of communication, is what you make of it. I do not post anything on Facebook I do not wish to be public knowledge. I take Facebook as the poor man’s advertising. Your web personality is reflected in your posts. No one can expect the cyber community to “know who I am” unless they make it clear. The responsibility for one’s communication with the cloud community is on the individual.
The positive use of social networking is overwhelming – advances to business, professional networking, following trends, in addition to the aforementioned connection with friends and family. Entire websites have come up to help people promote positive social change including Idealist and Change.Org among a plethora of others. The fact is that social good far outnumbers social bad. The bad just attracts better headlines.
This post would not be complete without covering the topic of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is an extension of bullying that has gone on forever. Sadly, human nature has not advanced with technology and headlines love attention-getting stories. “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” was coined in the mid 1800s regarding this phenomenon. How many of the headlines regarding cyber bullying go on in real life? And are we giving it undue attention? Cyber bullying will probably always exist in some form as real-life bullying has always existed. Extensive measures have been taken to counteract this problem and will continue.
The challenges for the modern world really haven’t changed. Employ critical thinking when absorbing information. Is something shock journalism or serious journalism? How accurate are the news stories being published and by what source? What agenda drives the information? Buyer beware.
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