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September 8, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#2. Week Two – Social Media

The rise of social media brought about a lot of benefits to people. For one thing, it made it a lot easier to communicate. We could send and receive messages almost instantaneously even if there is a large distance between the involved parties, rather than using the old-fashioned snail mail letters (though I will admit they do have their charms). This not only increased convenience but increased efficiency as well, such as being able to use video conferencing for meetings instead of having to fly into a venue far from home.

For another, it allows us to exchange ideas and opinions so much more easily than before; we have the ability to go to various social media platforms and read social commentary about important/current issues, rather than relying on, say, newspapers. In this way, we have ready access to a more balanced and well-rounded variety of opinions rather than just a one-sided, biased one. To use an example, here is a commentary on the actual message of K-Pop girl group Girl’s Day’s song Female President, that at first seems progressive in terms of feminism but is in fact the opposite.

To quote an extract from the article:

…the barely-there message of female empowerment is overshadowed by contradictory imagery and lyrics. Girl’s Day really had a golden opportunity here to tell women that now that South Korea has a woman in power, women should fight all the more against an oppressive and omnipresent patriarchy, but instead they just told us that now we can…kiss guys without holding back.

In addition, if we weren’t able to access such information/opinions, it is very likely that some of us might not even know of such issues that exist to start with. The “problem” about having so many different cultures is that we typically tend towards sticking to what we know and are familiar with, hence we aren’t fully aware of the going-ons with other cultures. For example, I’d heard of the term “blackface” before, but I never knew its full connotations and how offensive it was until I’d read an article as well as comments on the article from the various users of that website. With social media platforms, we are encouraged to read others’ opinions and start broadening our perspectives to see things from another point of view.

Of course besides the more important issues, there are always cute gems like these.
Be kind to your pets everybody.

One of my favourite things about social media, however, is (as mentioned in class) the shift in power from the institution to the consumers. Instead of twiddling out thumbs and waiting for articles to be put up, we the consumers are able to set up our own community and post information, and in turn leave comments on articles posted by others. Essentially, we gain control over content we want to see and discuss, and effectively cancel out the middleman institution. This not only opens the door to less censorship, but it also encourages people to post more content, such as their own creations – home-videos, (fan)art, covers of songs, etc. Furthermore, people who view the creations can in turn gain inspiration from them and continue improving with each new post they make.

adventure-time-jake-the-dog-advice-practice-makes-perfect

Furthermore, social media increases the opportunities of users to make connections with other users. When previously our social circle would be limited to people whom we can actually physically meet up with, we are now able to interact and engage with users who live in completely different countries/continents. We can become friends on Facebook, subscribe to each other on Youtube, or follow each other on Twitter and Tumblr.

Of course, there are downsides to the use of social media. Even with the increased opportunities to make new friends, we should certainly always be careful of those we are engaging with. While they might seem friendly online, it is important to remember that they are essentially hiding behind the veil of the Internet, and we have no true way of knowing otherwise. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should not make connections entirely, but instead we should always keep caution in mind when getting to know a new person over social media.

strangers-on-internet

Furthermore, with more and more users engaging in social media, there is also a corresponding increase in the amount of “trolls” who prowl the Internet, seeking to sow discord and start arguments on platforms originally meant for people to sincerely express their opinions. More often than not, this usually results in an ugly online brawl between parties, typically with insults flying back and forth and ultimately defeating the purpose of social media.

Another problem is that sometimes people get too involved with social media and lose focus on their other commitments. Some might get “addicted” to social media and spend too much time on them rather than, say, doing their homework or finishing their projects on time. Others elect to sit at home in front of their laptop all day to browse social media sites over spending quality time with their family and friends. And then there are those who forego sleep in favour of utilising social media.

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The key to social media, I believe, is exercising moderation between commitments and social media for entertainment. Ultimately, social media serves to enrich our lives and provides us with fresh experiences and perspectives that serve as a form of learning.

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6 Comments

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  1. spacestruck / Sep 9 2013 2:10 AM

    Certainly the use of social media requires moderation. I just fear for the kids today that grow up in an environment where they are constantly exposed to social media. They are using FaceBook and Twitter without much knowledge of the consequences as well as the potential risks they put themselves at. Additionally, many might grow up to be anti-social when it comes to F2F communication. Sigh.

    Cute gifs by the way. Really enjoyed looking at them! 🙂

    • Poooooooooonie / Sep 9 2013 5:53 AM

      Yes, precisely. I think our own batch is more cognizant of the risks of social media addiction, not to mention we didn’t exactly grow up with it. Whereas kids today have an ipad/iphone/what-have-you shoved into their hands when they’re literally still babies. It’s a bit worrying, to be honest, and I feel part of the onus is on the parents to ensure that their children experience a more well-rounded (so to speak) childhood rather than being overly reliant on technology to keep their attention.

      Hehehe thanks! I felt that the post was really boring without them (and obviously shorter).

  2. Laetitia / Sep 16 2013 2:41 PM

    I especially agree with you that social media has empowered people to create their own content rather than waiting for content to be given to them by major media corporations. That’s exactly how and why some Youtubers get really popular. I think that sometimes videos just get viral for no good reason (like Charlie bit my finger) and because people share and spread the content that the uploaders becomes famous overnight. Social media is indeed a powerful thing!

    • Poooooooooonie / Sep 16 2013 6:38 PM

      It’s amazing when you consider such things like getting famous through vlogging etc would have never been impossible just a decade ago! Sometimes I just marvel at the way humankind continues to update its modes of communication and information sharing through technology.

  3. Huiwen / Sep 16 2013 5:55 PM

    I love the gifs you post, they’re so awesome. And I totally agree with moderating the use of social media, something which young people today aren’t really aware of at all. I think that the Internet is great and will achieve truly great things, but there are many negative consequences of not being sensible about using the Web! I only wish that kids these days could take a class in Internet etiquette or something ._.

    • Poooooooooonie / Sep 16 2013 6:40 PM

      Thank you thank you! Oh I definitely wish the same thing about Internet etiquette classes, though chances are they’ll brush it off because they practically grew up using the internet and feel that they pretty much know everything about it. After all, didn’t we approach COM125 with more or less the same attitude? Though (I’d like to think) we are definitely ahead of them in terms of being sensible about going online!

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