Social Networks – New Communication Channels
Social media networks have opened new communication channels that enable people to traverse geographical boundaries and communicate with others around the world (Swenson 105). Popular social media networks such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter allow people to share ideas, multimedia messages, and form groups or follow like-minded people. Consequently, people have been able to build strong relations, share many ideas and visions regardless of the distance separating them. However, despite being such an important form of technology, social media networks have altered human behavior in many aspects (Swenson 117). For instance, civil disobedience, activism, and revolutions have taken an online approach. Contemporary revolutions such as those witnessed in the Arab Spring recently originated from social media. “Internet-based social media sites have been increasingly used to organize political activism across the globe” (Swenson 107).
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Mobility of Information through Social Media
Increased mobility of information through social media makes people synthesize the information faster and make decisions quicker (Lynch 302). For example, immediately after the Tsunami in Japan, people from all over the world joined social media to support the affected Japanese Communities. Videos and news of the unfortunate events were posted on social media by some civil society groups and concerned individuals. “Changes related to globalization have resulted in the growing separation of individuals in late modern societies from traditional bases of social solidarity” (Bennett and Segerberg 770). Consequently, social media networks create an avenue for individuals to join hands for a common purpose.
Delivery of News through Social Networks
Social media networks enforce an element of urgency in news delivery (Bennett and Segerberg 772). People often make quick decisions in order to keep abreast with the latest or trending information. Social media sites are often bombarded with an enormous chunk of information every passing second. Therefore, in order for one to stay up to date, they have to respond immediately before the information is overcome by other interesting or more compelling news (Bennett and Segerberg 776). It is this urgency that strengthens revolutionary movements because more people can join hands for one cause in just a few seconds. For instance, the revolutions in the Arab Spring countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and the ongoing Syrian Revolution have been able to attract huge interest on social media. In Egypt, the civilians were able to organize revolutionary meetings using social media. They were able to form large crowds, which eventually overthrew the president.
Social networks also enhance word of mouth communication. People can share their thoughts and feelings on different subjects. During revolutions, people share information such as loss of lives, areas most affected, and where the fight is headed next (Lynch 305). Previously, such information would only be relayed through word of mouth or telephone calls. However, with social media it is possible for people to plan, execute, and assess their revolutions online. Since this information is relayed instantly, it has a lot of psychological impact on the audience. It causes people to feel closer to each other especially in difficult times when rebelling against establishments.
In conclusion, social media networks play a crucial role in contemporary communication. They promote unity of people in promoting common goals, initiating social change, and in executing revolutions. Similarly, people can use social media to share ideas, empathize with others and share their opinions on different matters. The influence of various social media networks on political events such as revolutions and activism is only becoming clearer with unrest in the Arab World such as the Syrian situation. As Marc Lynch states in his article, “The impact of social media on contentious politics represents one of the many areas which will require significant new thinking “309.
Bennett, W. Lance and Alexandra, Segerberg. “Digital media and the personalization of collective action: Social technology and the organization of protests against the global economic crisis.” Information, Communication & Society 14.6 (2011): 770-799. Print.
Lynch, Marc. “After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab.” Perspectives on Politics 9.2 (2011): 301-310. Print.
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Swenson, Brynnar. “The human network: social media and the limit of politics”. Baltic Journal of Law and Politics 1.1, (2012): 102-124. Print.