With Social Media Comes A New Voice Of Freedom
July 2, 2012
The freedom we have today is the direct byproduct of the determination our forefathers fought for to establish the United States of America as a free country in 1776.
That American Revolution was facilitated by a system of signals and word-of-mouth communication.
Today, revolutions are facilitated by social media.
The ability to congregate online, form communities and have real-time dialogue has given everyone a new voice.
The combination of social, digital and traditional media has moved dissidents from the underground, and assisted in movements such as the Arab Spring.
Beginning in December 2010, citizens of the Arab world have been using social media as a tool in a string of uprisings to spotlight injustices. These include the Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire to shed light on how the government was mistreating him, along with the women in Saudi Arabia who upload videos of themselves on YouTube driving their cars to defy the ban on female drivers in their country.
(There's even a hashtag on Twitter, #Women2Drive that people use to speak for and against this movement.)
Social media is being used to change cultures and sometimes even depose dictators.
People no longer have to feel alone.
That's the essence of this social space – to elevate our capacity to connect with each other. Here at home, while we've had a few "revolutionary" type stories of social good coming from these platforms, too often, the good is overshadowed by questionable use.
From people saying whatever they want, regardless of the hurtful impact to brands contradicting the interactive nature of social media and refusing to respond and acknowledge fans when they reach out, it's as if social is viewed in this country as an "unrestricted playground."
We have news organizations posting wrong information without verification, "Weiner-gate" type gaffes, and celebrities shooting off whatever they like, such as a spacey Ashton Kutcher tweeting about former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno when he was fired in connection to alleged child molestation scandal:
When Kutcher later realized why Paterno was let go, he deleted the tweet as if it never happened. It's as if his subsequent "My bad" was sufficient and excused his cybernated slop.
When you look at how social media lends to a new and bigger voice for good, it is embarrassing that while we watch Saudi women use social as a tool to win the right to vote, here in the USofA, we watch celebrities like Motley Crue's Tommy Lee who just last week posted a manifesto on Facebook about how he can't stand it when his fans ask to get a picture with him. All that does is make people feel embarrassed for being fans. Where's the good in that?
Everyone has the right to say and post whatever they wish. But with the freedom of expression offered by social media comes responsibility. And it should come as no surprise if and when you are judged by others or lose opportunities because of your digital debris.
The good news is, is that it's not all a bunch of Tommy Lee's on social platforms.
We have seen everyday people using these channels to facilitate change, like the time Bank of America consumers banded together to force the bank to back off on that "debit card fee" to 100,000 women finding each other socially and raising 3 million for Planned Parenthood when Susan G. Komen initially announced it would stop funding the organization (they ultimately reversed that decision.)
The power of social media continues to be tested, but there is no question that these platforms have given people – not just in America but around the world – a new voice.
How you chose to exercise the freedom of that new voice is your right.
But for those using social media as a catalyst for good -- making the world a better place for those who will come after us -- you are the spirit of what our forefathers fought for.
Let freedom ring.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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