By Amy Zhang
What was unthinkable ten or fifteen years ago is undeniable now; social media plays an incredibly influential part in daily life and cell phones keep people connected at all times; they have essentially become an extension of oneself. While those who use social media are often frowned upon or dismissed as the shallow “selfie generation,” obsessed with self-image and ignorant of the world, social media presents a powerful tool in its connectivity and reach. In today’s rapidly changing world, it is from social media that the loudest proponents of social change emerge. As an instant source of news and opinion, it is always accessible. Its strength lies in its versatility; it can be a tool to connect, inform, or move people, with efficiency that is equal to traditional news sources when harnessed and, unlike traditional news sources, is more accessible and visible.
In the fast-paced way the world has evolved, the often cited reason for being uninformed simply is the lack of time to sit down and read a newspaper or turn on the news. Social media has grown to become a solution for this issue. Within seconds, news can be spread across the internet. The more traditional forms of media follow a stricter schedule, which social media overrides. Rather than waiting for a daily newspaper or waiting for the news to come on the radio, social mediaallows for people to receive the most pressing news, including a variety of different opinions, by simply scrolling through their phone. Although it is unfortunate that people do not make time to properly absorb information from the world around them, social media allows for them to remain informed about the society around them.
Similarly, social media can also become a platform to inform; with such a wide reach, issues that are often overlooked or glossed over by mainstream media can be easily shared. The ease in the transfer of knowledge encourages awareness. With such an unfiltered platform, all forms of information become readily available and each opinion has an equal chance to be heard.
Another strength lies its versatility and connectivity. Social media is a platform to share and connect with others. Through apps like Instagram or Facebook, it has become incredibly simple to share and learn from like minded people in communities that transcend national borders. It unites people with a common aspiration so they can inspire and inform each other, such as in the case of the Black Lives Matter movement, pushing them to work for a common goal. The united force that mounts with this exchange of ideas is momentous, whether people are united by anger at the political climate of the United States or celebrating women in history.
As the life and values of the world continue to evolve, change and inspiration now stem exclusively from grandiose speeches, but rather from a quick message that can be passed on through a photograph or 140 characters. It may be often scorned, but social media’s merits as a medium of social justice are increasingly emerging, and it is a powerful tool for those who are able and willing to harness it. ♦