Windows into the Imagination
Thursday, June 16, 2011
From the Editor: Social Media Redux
So what role did social media play in the events in Vancouver?
Perhaps some would be tempted to blame it all on social media, but there have been riots and silly people long before the first Tweet.
It certainly adds another piece to the puzzle. For me, the impact and power of social media is an evolving animal that doesn't yet know what it wants to be when it grows up. So, for now, it flexes it's new-found muscles with every convergence of its haphazard online consciousness, fueld by Likes, the soul of the voyeur and the self-gratifying pursuit of that ten minutes of fame.
Sure it was amazing in Libya and Egypt, and during disasters when voices into the ether could become cries heard around the world. That's when it's good, when being human means something wonderful, even great.
But, unfortunately, it can also mean something else, not so flattering.
Watching the footage of young men posing with enthusiastic glee and texting/tweeting madly while their city burns in the background is not a crowning moment. It is a sad testament.
Do I think social media caused the events last night? I don't. It's like blaming riots on the media who cover them. Yes, they do contribute to it by giving these attention-starved hooligans the coverage they do not deserve, but causing it? I think the silly people who caused the mess would have done it even if the internet had never been invented.
But I think social media certainly fueled it, ignorantly and unwittingly. That's when tweeting/texting and the seeking of sensation becomes something uglier by feeding the monsters, those of our society who don't have moral limits and the self-discipline that stops us from committing social suicide. Then the fun flash mob catches fire and becomes an inferno that burns the reputation of a city.
Let's hope this creature grows up, and soon.