Thursday, February 4, 2016

Does social media help or hurt activism?

"Here is what [Ghonim] concluded about social media today: 'First, we don’t know how to deal with rumors. Rumors that confirm people’s biases are now believed and spread among millions of people.' Second, 'We tend to only communicate with people that we agree with, and thanks to social media, we can mute, un-follow and block everybody else. Third, online discussions quickly descend into angry mobs. … It’s as if we forget that the people behind screens are actually real people and not just avatars.'
'And fourth, it became really hard to change our opinions. Because of the speed and brevity of social media, we are forced to jump to conclusions and write sharp opinions in 140 characters about complex world affairs. And once we do that, it lives forever on the Internet.'
Fifth, and most crucial, he said, “today, our social media experiences are designed in a way that favors broadcasting over engagements, posts over discussions, shallow comments over deep conversations. … It’s as if we agreed that we are here to talk at each other instead of talking with each other.'”

I think the lesson is that if you have 1 simple goal, social media can help you reach that.  If you have a complex goal, like turning a country from dictator to democracy, that is where things break down.

1 comment:

Marian Baghor said...

I do agree with all that you mention here, about social media and their function or role. To me, it seems that the separation of mind, with eyes on the screen and the attention present in what's on that screen, with a sense of physicality, is key to losing respect for fellow human beings online. For when the sense of body, hence...
emotional awareness accompanied by self-reflection is absent, anything goes. It's the instinctual reactions that are ruling internet activities in Social Media, that's evident. Many online activists are lonely, depressed and alienated from the world of blood, sweat and tears, in a life of lethargy, laziness, depression and even by using drugs and alcohol. The anonimity of a presence at home, without company, creates wanderers that are lost. I've witnessed, mainly in fora with spiritual and ethical discussions, fierce endless rants and airy fairy pink clouds of unrealistic projections, imaginations that almost begin to have a life of their own, in that virtual world. To me, it's one of the challenges of our time, to overcome the addiction to that state. A state wherein such a participant is at a complete loss of its sovereignty.