Newsletter August 2011
|The recent UK riots have certainly put the spotlight on social media. The once hallowed medium which was the bastion of freedom seems to have turned on the people who once heralded it as a force for good with Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger in the docks for their part in the disturbance.
Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that there needs to be more rules and regulations in place for social media to prevent what happened at the beginning of August from happening again. We're not sure how far the state may go with this but admittedly there are some pros and cons to the idea.
For a start, a closer-watched social media would mean there may be the chance to prevent things happening even before they exist through pre-emptive measures. There is no doubt that riots will happen either way but without social media they just won't be as organised.
Social media has also been linked with addiction and depression – studies have shown there to be a correlation between the amount of hours spent online on social media and the incidence of depression in people. There are also fears that younger people are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face thanks to instant messaging, Facebook chats and tweets, so perhaps a curb on social media can improve this situation even though it must be said that these problems are lauded with the coming of most technologies, including the humble radio.
On the good side, there are as many good deeds being spread by social media as there are evils. Numerous stories about groups coming together over Twitter and Facebook for the clean up operation have reared in the aftermath of the riots. In addition, our news may become far more tainted without social media – the Arab Spring is one example of a war and a world event that has been clearly portrayed in the public eye without propaganda because of social media. Controlled or no social media at all may have lead to censorships that would allow whoever is in control to paint the picture of current affairs as they wish rather than as it really is.
Life without social media would be a hugely different one with benefits and downsides depending on what you value, but whichever way you look at it, it certainly looks like it's here to stay.