Social media is a force like no other we have ever seen. It is the place where anyone can feel safe to say whatever they want anonymously or even not-so-anonymously. And once you have said something and it goes on the world-wide-web it is there for everyone to be seen. This concept was unheard of until the 80’s when Bulletin Board Systems, or BSS’s, were brought into the equation. This form of communication allowed us to share our interests or thoughts or basically anything online. Sure, back then this was a very primitive version compared to what we know today, but nevertheless is it the ancestor of social media.
Now why I tell this story is because I wanted to highlight something that we can be proud of. But also something that has it’s dark sides. When the African-American community finally had enough of all the racism and bigotry, they had to get up and march the streets. When the LGBT- community was tired of being beaten by the officials sworn in to protect them and others, they took to the White House and stood up for their rights. People tried to silence them and, unfortunately, this succeeded way too often. There is a reason the University of Virginia started organizing the ‘Day of Silence’ in 1996. No longer would anyone be silenced for what they stand for and, they were right.
Social media has proven to have a huge impact on the way people feel about situations going on in the world. For example, the 2012 United States election was dubbed ‘The Social Media Elections’ by many seeing as Obama successfully used social media to sway people’s mind. More on topic, it took just a couple of brave men and woman to publicly come out as gay on Facebook and starting a conversation about it. People started to show their support online, which started to roll the bandwagon. In 2013, Early Californian polls showed that 55% of the inhabitants supported gay-marriage. No longer was there the possibility for people to silence you for who you are since social media is a public, non-physical, domain.
However, as I said, I have noticed some dark sides. Since social media is such a publicly accessible medium, it also means that people can try to get the proverbial ‘bandwagon’ rolling for less noble causes. In recent events, public officials were fired after using their access to social media to publicly shame the current First Lady. Freedom of speech has gotten a new meaning with the globalization of the world. However, I still think that we need to continue to praise the ones who do get their rights using the power of social media. I praise the people brave enough to stand up for what is right and may they never be discouraged by the few rotten apples in the basket.
GLSEN. (2016). Retrieved from Day of Silence: http://www.dayofsilence.com/#top
Newsome, J. (2016, November 11). West Virginia mayor resigns after racist Michelle Obama Facebook post. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/15/politics/west-virginia-mayor-michelle-obama-racist-facebook-trnd/
O’Neil, L. (2013, June 26). How Facebook Friended Gay Marriage. Retrieved from Esquire: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a23253/friending-gay-marriage/
Rouse, M. (2005, September). Bulletin Board System. Retrieved from WhatIs: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/bulletin-board-system-BBS
Rutledge, D. P. (2013, January 25). How Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Retrieved from The Media Psychology Blog: http://mprcenter.org/blog/2013/01/how-obama-won-the-social-media-battle-in-the-2012-presidential-campaign/