Social Media: Is it more powerful than ever?
Social media is a powerhouse tool in the midst of distancing and isolation, and feeling isolated or being in a situation such as this can be a hard thing to process psychologically.
It goes without saying that many are facing a deep public misunderstanding of social media and how to effectively use it.
At the heart of many crises lie many Western digital platforms in particular. Examples being Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit. Just to name a few. As with anything that happens worldwide, these platforms are able to act as multipliers and facilitators of misinformation.
Covid-19 as an example
Most recently, COVID-19 has been a huge source of misinformation. More importantly, this has lead to social media becoming a fertile ground for some dangerous scaremongering.
The WHO Director-General even stated: “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.”
Social media has always had the ability to reach a huge number of people in practically any part of the world.
Most recently, this has increased tenfold.
We are all social animals and this is simply the nature of human beings.
We always want or need the company of our fellow humans. No matter what, we will always find some kind of way to create a social circle. Be it online, offline and, right now, waving to your neighbour from 2 metres away as you hurriedly pass them….we will always find a way to connect.
It’s simply what we do best.
Social media has the most power in groups and most of us have a direct connection to at least one or more platforms.
Leading us to ask the question: what kind of power does social media hold?
Let’s look at some positives:
- It has the power to keep you connected with your friends and updated with their life and happenings.
- It can affect you emotionally.
- Has the power to spread awareness with social networks each doing their part to create new tools to tackle fake news.
- It fuels the collaboration between scientists, creates fundraising opportunities and, most importantly of all, helps people overcome their isolation.
“For better or worse, social media permeates social development and our relationships,” says Jan Nolin, a professor at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science who researches social media.
Social media has erased distances and national boarders leading us to relate in a different way to events and people in far-away places.
With over three-billion people connected online this has become a widely powerful force.
With conflicting information on a crisis, you have the mixture of a combination of right timings, strong emotions and, often, a real need at that very moment to share enough to symbolise a terrible situation.
While through this we might gain a new understanding of how tools enrich our lives, it is also important to remember that we need to be mindful of messages that we encounter.
Social media is an indispensable source of vital information in this day and age.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) use their various platforms to inform the public concerning updates about the outbreak in order to control any panic.
However….this doesn’t mean that they have total control over what is being circulated between the users of social media!
Conspiracy theories are a huge factor here and, let’s be honest, we have all heard one or two so far.
Does the theory of 5G networks spreading the virus ring a bell?
Not only do they get people excited, they also offer an opportunity for people to blame somebody else for the damage caused to our normal day-to-day routines.
What do we do?
We begin to turn to our mobile devices to unwind, to share, to rant and to find help.
This is easily applicable to all of us who have been isolated!
Be it positive or negative, we, naturally, want to document and share this with all. Highlighting again the widespread reach of social media, you could push positive or negative thoughts and people will read them.
Remember to be smart with how you use social media and remember that it is an immensely powerful tool.
Remember to use your media accounts well and to use them safely!