Our generation is in possession of one of the most powerful weapons of all time. We can share and upload our thoughts and expressions for all the world to see simply by pressing a button. This weapon must also be respected and cared for properly. If misused, it can and will backfire.
In previous letters, we have discussed social media campaigns such as #BellLetsTalk and the incredible effect they can have. Other well known awareness campaigns include some of my personal favourites #YesAllWomen and #AskHerMore.
In recent weeks, Twitter users took to the popular social networking site using the hashtags #whiteandgold and #blueandblack to debate the colour of a dress that was initially posted on Tumblr. The dress trended worldwide and approximately 10 million Twitter users added to the debate. In case you were wondering, the actual colour of the dress was revealed to be blue and black.
Understandably, many were angry that something as trivial as a dress had gained global media attention overnight when there are human rights violations that happen every day with little recognition from a worldwide audience.
The Salvation Army, a Christian denominational church and international charitable organization, capitalized brilliantly on the internet sensation that is “the dress”. They used female models posing in the dress to call attention to domestic violence, and the countless women who suffer silently on a daily basis.
The powerful images speak to the true capacity of social media to create awareness and spark intelligent conversation.
I’m really glad you shared the story of how a picture of dress that seemed to change colours became a powerful advertisement for a serious issue. That story highlights the positive impact that social media can have; there are also, as I’m sure you know, many negative impacts of social media.
In the opening line of your letter you describe social media as “a powerful weapon.” This got me thinking about whether or not social media is actually a weapon. The December hacks on Sony Entertainment, in which private emails were leaked and national security was threatened over the release of a controversial movie, showed that “cyberwar” (as it is dubbed by some) is a formidable threat.
My worry is that this is just the beginning. I don’t even think we’ve scraped the surface of what technology is capable of – a scary thought. In our lifetimes, technology has already advanced so much. With these advances have come increases in hacks, identity fraud, and cyberbullying.
According to dosomething.org, 43% of kids have been bullied online. Social media websites with direct chat features make it easier for bullies to approach kids – because when they are behind a computer screen, they can feel invincible.
Like many things in this world, social media has its positives and its negatives. I don’t know if the positives outweigh the negatives – they don’t seem to. Then again, I love my cat videos and “what fruit matches your personality” quizzes (brought to me via social media) as much as the next girl.
Is social media dangerous? Yes – of course. Is it always dangerous, though? No. It all depends on how people use it. The power is in our hands. Let’s be responsible, kind, and purposeful with our use of social media!
PS – hey, readers: speaking of social media, we’re on it! Follow us on Twitter @thefabletters and join our Google+ community by searching Thefabletters!