The Troubling Power of Social Media

Social media today has become a prominent tool in fueling and organizing today’s social protests. But it can also be used to radicalize as in ISIS, or promote extremist or racial hate-groups. It’s also used as a device to attack individuals, including our young teenagers causing emotional damage, depression even suicidal risks. Used against adults, social media attacks can be life destroying both in career and of family. Social media in essence, can be a variable double-edged sword.

SOCIAL MEDIA ATTACKS

In 2019 legendary Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry was fired by TV’s Sportsnet over ‘you people’ rant on Coach’s Corner. 85 year old Cherry had singled out new immigrants for not wearing poppies to honor Canada’s war time veterans on Remembrance Day.

“You people … that come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price”

After intense backlash on social media, Canadian newscasts began airing his comments on every network in the country fueling debate. The majority of social media reaction called for Mr. Cherry’s removal and by late afternoon word spread that he had been fired.

Dec. 15 2019 There was social media outrage after the Hallmark Channel pulled an ad featuring two brides kissing at a same-sex wedding ceremony. The ad was initially pulled because of complaints from various Christian affiliates and then re-instated after social media attacks from the Lesbian and LGBTQ community.

These are just two examples of how social media today wields its power. Minor examples in the grand scheme of things compared to massive National resistance protests as in Hong Kong and the organized worldwide protest against climate change. However there are distinct and perhaps obvious differences between the two.

One is used against perceived government corruption, indifference or injustice, while the other is a targeted individual attack. Today, any Internet user can sit in judgement from the comfort of their home and through social media criticize publicly for or against any cause they may choose.

This at first sounds like a good thing right? The common people finally having a voice?

TO ERR IS HUMAN

To some though, the relatively recent rise in Social Media influence is — alarming! They say the growing runaway power under the control of the common masses can be a dangerous thing. After all, we are only human and humans are prone to error and influence in their judgements. Especially when it comes to emotionally charged personal beliefs. Yet we are easily manipulated by online opinion.

Just ask the thousands of radicalized jihadists who left their country to fight in some strange twisted Holy War and now are begging to be allowed back home. As humans, we can be very vulnerable to social media propaganda, even more so when it promises a sense of community, of being loved as an individual in a large group with the same beliefs (ill-gotten or not) as our own.

Human nature has us pursuing others who are like us! Others with similar belief systems and the need to be part of something bigger than just ourselves. This is the danger, the lure of Social Media promising to fill these inherent longing’s going way back to our tribal and clan days of yore. We are a social seeking species but our decision making processes can often be flawed. Flawed and influenced by our emotions.

And as Human beings, we do make mistakes. We can err in choosing the wrong group or organization to hang around with and then be influenced in fighting for their cause. And with social media’s increasing power, these choices can have profound effects on others. In the attack against individuals, how many have lost their jobs, been disgraced and had their lives destroyed because of attacking social media backlash.

Yes there are monsters out there who deserve what they get, but are all of them monsters? Are you sure? What if as part of a protesting group on social media you are wrong and help destroy someone’s good name in error? Surely this scenario will, and has played out? What then? — Oops I’m sorry? My Bad?

This can’t happen you say? — What about the hundreds, nay thousands, that are wrongfully convicted each year and sent to prison by their peers in a court of law no-less?

So oops sorry somehow doesn’t do it and yes we definitely do make mistakes and all the time. Personal Social Media attacks should not be taken lightly, it shouldn’t be a game that is played in the safety of our homes. Yet trendily, this seems the case?

Attacks on individuals that are emotionally charged and influenced by social media propaganda can ruin lives. Lives that in most cases we know nothing about other than what’s read in the opinion files of mass media. Adding our voice as part of a social group can often result in feelings of empowerment yet also blur the lines between our own opinions and those of the social voices we are following.

The rise in power of social Media is a fairly new phenomena and where it will lead to in the future is yet unknown. It has been used to fight for political and environmental change and abusive governmental resistance. However, attacks on Individuals have been commonly handed down with life-destroying punishment (deservedly so or not) to those riding the backs of the so-called social media watchdogs.

Perhaps a warning is due here? As they say “Ultimate power corrupts absolutely.” We’ve already seen its negative power in radicalizing our young. It has both the power of uniting us as a people in just cause, and rallying emotional attacks in conformity against individuals deemed socially unacceptable rightly or not. This judgement handed down by anyone and all with common internet access.

Words on social media can hurt. Including teens against teens and those of our children.

THE PAST BE JUDGED

It seems to me, that if your of a certain age, you’ve almost surely broken a socially unacceptable law or two that exists today. Just as we today may be unknowingly committing a social injustice in the eyes of our future selves? Should those in the future then have the right to look back and judge and prosecute “us” for our long-ago behavior? And on social networks?

Lets say (hypothetically speaking) that I once patted the behind of a female employee at the company’s Christmas party way back when, as was tolerably accepted during that error (though likely undesirable to the female.) Am I today still guilty of sexual harassment? Can Social Media be within their rights to condemn me? If say, I did this many times? Can I now today be considered a sexual predator? A monster worthy of Social Media contempt or perhaps even online prosecution?

In other words is the contents of my whole life up for scrutiny? If not, where do you draw the line? 5 years ago? 10? 20? There are those today who have been socially destroyed for what was considered as merely inappropriate behavior back when. And many more who have simply slipped-up falling back in time using words that then were acceptable but causing angry social media backlash today. We are all human and all make mistakes but shouldn’t our punishment fit the crime?

My question is how do those sitting at home on Social Media, never knowing their target, never knowing exactly their intent or what’s truly in their heart be allowed to pass judgement. Allowed to incriminate perfect strangers with a send from their chosen device. Perhaps, as often is the case, for words uttered deemed unacceptable in today’s changing social environment? And the paid dearly for it!

Yet, is this fair and just judgement a’ la Social Media today?

Have you never spoken socially unacceptable words, in your past?

PERSPECTIVE

Perhaps we should be alarmed in the growing power of social media? Perhaps we should learn from the fake-news and advertising propaganda that already floods our social media today. Perhaps we should all be very careful in the choices we make in following someone else’s cause whether it be currently deemed as socially acceptable or not! Or be quick to judge others in lieu of ourselves?

Is it even possible to be absolutely sure about our condemnations before adding our voice that may socially destroy someone’s life simply by reading accusations on social media? It’s easy to get caught up in emotion but is this the proper way to hand out judgement? You know “innocent until proven guilty?” A fair trial with all the facts? Punishment to fit the crime?

Do these long withstanding laws not apply to attacking social Media?

What do you think?

THE WORD OF WAYNE

“Social media provides us with an opportunity to read people’s minds and be able to provide solutions or unleash hell on your selected targets.” ― DON SANTO

“People get addicted to feeling self-righteous and feeling morally superior feels good.” ― Mark Manson (edited quote)

Don’t forget to share your views and experiences with all of us on today’s subject line. Your input “What do you think?” is what WOW is all about! Opinions from the only voice that matters. Your voice! The voice of the people!

WordofWayne©

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Troubling Power of Social Media

  1. Well written post. We need to get back to the days of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Live and let live. Too early in the day to raise my blood pressure so I will say no more. But again let me say, excellent post. Couldn’t agree more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Irwin for both your kind words and participation. At times, we elders are accused of criticizing new technology (as in Social Media) because we’re: not capable of keeping up with the times? too old school? or just plain grumpy? Grumpy at times we may be (we’ve earned it!) but that doesn’t mean we don’t know when new technology is being wrongly used to harm others.
      This new age of judging others while hiding from afar has me concerned as to where as a social species we are headed.

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      1. Couldn’t agree more! I guess that’s why some of my rants and raves are wild and crazy……I try my best to look at things from a positive standpoint and bring some smiles into the picture when the reader is done reading my posts. Too much negativity in the world today.
        But then, though, I read your posts and become grounded once again. Your posts bring us back to reality while at the same time enabling us to remember and enjoy the parts of our lives that were fun.
        It’s all about balance. Know where we are today, remember from whence we came and the good times had, and work towards making the future better in spite of what others may be trying to do.
        With that I will get on with my day as I have some writing to do. How does that saying go “Time waits for no man!”
        Have a great day.

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