The Double Standard of Social Media
We are past the point where social media and technology are used for solely keeping in touch and sharing pictures with friends and family. We have seen it used to announce the birth of a child from inside a hospital room. We have seen it used to boost a business’ customer relations. We have even seen social media used as a medium to overthrow dictators. These are good things—great things, even. But as we all know, good cannot exist without the alternative. Social media is not just a little outlet where teenagers post their feelings in less than 140 characters. It is a powerful tool that can build or destroy relationships, reputations, and lives.
There was jubilant commotion over Twitter and Facebook in the spring during the Egyptian revolution and the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Stories of how social networking sites contributed to and ultimately mobilized the revolution reached millions of computer screens across the world. This was the first big sign to the world that social media can be a tool of democracy. And now in the aftermath of the London riots and the alleged impact of Twitter and Blackberry technology, we have prime examples of the good and evil that instantaneous social media can bring. The double standard of real-time communication comes with huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
While there is still speculation as to whether or not social media and technology are the sole cause of the riots, the situation itself is a reality check as to what the invention of social media makes possible. Gerald Baron of Crisis Comm explains eloquently, “…somewhat predictably I would say ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ but with guns… We could kill a lot of people with sticks and bows and arrows. But now we can kill millions with a single push of a button.”