The impact social media make on modern society is obvious and impossible to underestimate. It is a well-known fact that today the internet is much more popular and widely used than television. Many people spend hours browsing the net and visiting social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. The content placed on these websites is varied, and almost anything can be found there. Internet today has replaced information offices, libraries, archives, news streams on TV and discussion or debate clubs. Social networks have the massive power of manipulating human minds and directing crowds of people towards certain goals.
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Social networks today dictate the world’s latest fashion and the most interesting hobbies; they take part in charity auctions and mass protests. Cleverly designed content can influence thousands of minds and produce a large social reaction. Since the internet today is one of the speediest and popular means of communication, it normally takes part in every aspect of social life. Some might say that social media are innocent and are mainly used for gossiping, transmitting rumors, sharing funny pictures and photographs. Although, if we take a look at some of the most discussed and tragic modern revolutionary events, we will notice that all of them were accompanied by mass actions heated up through the internet and social media namely. The most influential and powerful politicians of the present days own personal blogs or official pages on various social networks. This means that these networks are highly political today; they also have an enormous international audience, which makes them influence a huge number of people every day.
Some of the recent revolutions that happened within the last several years were massively impacted by social media. In the times when newspapers or television were the main means of carrying the news, the stream of information could be easily filtered (Satell, par. 20). With contemporary social media, everyone is allowed to post their information, which is much harder to control; a group of organized people and properly selected content can create and direct the passionate crowd. Besides, with the appearance of social media, any conflict started to need much less time to turn into mass action.
The revolutions in Egypt and Ukraine were actively supported by social media such as Facebook, Tweeter, and Youtube. The speedy transfer of information, news, and propaganda heated the crowd and organized it. The younger generation quickly shared the news through social networks and transferred the information much faster than official TV channels or newspapers would (Nadler, par. 3). The conflicting sides were quickly provided with the latest instructions and informed about the “proper values.” Before the actual protests started, thousands of social network users reported that they would gladly join the mass actions. It is a well-known fact that social media, as well as television and press today, are controlled by politicians. Anything we read, hear or see is someone’s opinion, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, this opinion is biased.
The situation we observe in Ukraine these days has been created and maintained by social media for months. The social groups that had different cultural, social and political preferences from the very beginning were set against each other and stimulated by the constant flow of very aggressive propaganda penetrating people’s minds right from the screens of their computers. Ukrainian Orange Revolution of ten years ago was the first attempt to create a massive misunderstanding between the West and the East of the country, but at that time social media were basically non-existent, and the revolutionary moods slowly faded away and moved to the background. The end of 2013 put the beginning to a new course of tragic events in this country, but this time, both of the conflicting sides had powerful support of social media. The very first call to come to Independence Square in Kyiv was delivered through a post on Facebook (Peled, par. 1). Ever since that moment, the protestors of both sides have been motivated and organized mainly using social media (Barbera, Metzger, par. 1).
It is also worth mentioning that Russia, Ukraine, and other countries of the post-Soviet area share their own massively popular social network called VK. This website plays one of the most important roles in shaping modern events in Ukraine. The stream of propaganda is so powerful that it starts to be scary to imagine when the current battle might finally end because the number of motivating videos, posts, and photographs showing more and more aggressive armed people, innocent victims among women and children, and ruined buildings are multiplying every day. The conflict has gone so far that neither of the fighting sides is now able to forgive the opponents and ceasefire, turn to peace instead of hatred, and stop desiring revenge. To my mind, social media today can no longer be thought of as light-minded innocent means for posting funny pictures. I think that it is more appropriate to see them as a powerful weapon of mass character.
Barbera, Pablo and Megan Metzger. Tweeting the Revolution: Social Media Use and the #Euromaidan Protests. 2014. Web.
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Nadler, Daniel. From Egypt to Ukraine, Social Media Now Allows You to Share Revolution. 2014. Web.
Peled, Daniella. Ukraine’s Social Media Revolution. 2014. Web.
Satell, Greg. If You Doubt That Social Media Has Changed the World, Take A Look At Ukraine. 2014. Web.