Social media: The great 'democratizer'


Thanks to Dan Patterson for the photo.
  • Thanks to Dan Patterson for the photo.

If you've been anywhere near a television or newspaper lately, you've probably heard about the uprising in Egypt. Mixed in with the news is speculation that social media -- which includes blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more --  has a huge role to play in it, as it has in other uprisings around the world.

It's amazing to witness. Anyone with an Internet connection or cell phone has access to countless readers, allowing them to share their thoughts and ideas with anyone interested in reading — even in countries that actively attempt to stifle such interactions.

Thanks to social media, everyone can wield the power of the pen. We don't have to wait for the paper to be published or the 10 o'clock news to find out what's going on. All we have to do is tune into the Twitter feed of someone in the crowd.

While not nearly to the same extremes, we see this type of thing occurring here in the Queen City all the time. Journalists and citizens alike live-Tweet public meetings, drawing their followers into meetings they may not have known about or couldn't attend.

Anyone who wants to, and has a cell phone or Internet connection, is able to speak out like never before about anything that's on their mind. So, is it time to recognize the Internet, particularly social media, as the great "democratizer"?

From Newsline: Your Hotline to Pakistan:

In a short space of time, new media and social networks have blitzkrieged their way into global consciousness and usage, increasingly replacing traditional media – which is believed to be an anachronistic closed circuit. Today, social networks are being used for social interaction, business, activism, fund-raising purposes or simply voicing one’s opinion. And in the process, they are shaping a new discourse. In fact, as opposed to traditional media defining the parameters of debate and discussion, the reverse is taking place now: the discourse is being set using social media which is then filtering out into traditional forums.

What Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, sites hosting blogs and especially comment forums on numerous newspaper websites have done is allow a steady exchange of views on news. And this has automatically put in place a system of checks and balances. Even the press has started getting ‘bad press.’ A story seems doctored? Commentators will comment. A reporter misinforms his readers; they will make sure they set the record straight. When people in positions of authority – regardless of how high up the food chain they are – do (or say) something unacceptable, there will be blogposts and tweets and status updates on Facebook and endless comments about it.

The social media has not only allowed an exchange of views, but also enabled the intelligentsia to voice its opinions more forcefully.

Read the entire post, by Farieha Aziz, here.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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