The topic of social media becoming a hinderance or hurting our society is one that has been thrown around a lot, especially in the past few years. With this being said, I feel as if most of the blame is being put on the actual platforms themselves, when in reality they are nothing without actual interactors. The power seems to be seen in the actual online media itself, but there is not actual social media without the “social” aspect that comes from its users. I find it very interesting when this argument is continuing to be made or how to improve or “fix” the problems, as mentioned by Kevin Roose in his article about if social media can be saved or not, and I personally feel as if the argument must be looked at from a technical and sociological approach rather than simply one or the other.
Identifying the problem:
In the article linked above, there are many problems listed, but the one that seems to stick out that I am going to focus on is how social platforms need to “give power to the people” to solve the issues that said author states at the start of his article. This idea being one that solves the problems associated with the platforms has me seriously questioning it in many ways. While I appreciate the thought behind it and see the way that Roose is trying to approach the matter, I still feel blame being placed onto the actual platforms rather than the abuse that has been placed on them by some individuals. To say that “giving power to the people” will help to solve something when the reality is that we, as users and interactors, have a very significant amount of power in general baffles me. While I do feel as though creators do try to create both intentional and subliminal messages to sway users, we, as an audience, are a very large influence as to what these creators and platforms try to cater to in some ways. While some underlying messages and tones can create some of the issues that Roose has stated, trying to shift power seems irrelevant considering interactors already possess a large amount of it.
What needs “saving?”
Don’t get me wrong, I feel as if some valid points are made in this article, but I get a little confused and frustrated when blame gets placed on technology when multiple accordances need to be taken into consideration. There are many factors that come into play, or rather, should come into play when discussing the topic of social media and its grip on users, but the power is not simply within the platform as much as it is with the people fueling the platform. The diversity among the interactors who use social media coming together to share their lives and experiences can create such an interesting and unique experience when used correctly.
While I definitely do see some corruption that comes with how some interactors use the platforms, to say that it all falls on the actual platforms themselves confuses me more than anything. Though I did not touch on the other points made in this article by Roose, they all seem to fall back under the same umbrella of what the platform can do, when all of the issues he mentioned stem from how users have abused them. I do see where he is coming from in some instances, and I applaud those who can spot issues that come from technological blunders, but social media does not need “saving:” those who get caught up in it and abuse it do.
(photo courtesy of techfinancials.co.za)