Social media is a complex phenomenon of the modern world. Never before has everyone had such a powerful voice. Before the days of social media, if you wanted to be heard it was a long and strenuous journey to being noticed by someone loosely related to the media, or with a bit of power, to have your say. Nowadays, with social taking the world by storm we, the ‘little guys’, can speak freely to anyone that will listen, read or watch. Social sites have given anyone and everyone with access to the internet a valid opinion, a channel through which we can express our feelings, thoughts and opinions effortlessly. This revolutionary advancement in communications is possibly one of the most incredible and life-changing innovations to have been introduced since humans first populated this earth (dramatic, perhaps? We don’t think so!).
Yes, admittedly the increased use of social media and advanced technology in general has led to ‘kids not being kids’ and a lack of face-to-face and real-time communications, but has it not increased our ability to communicate? As human beings, we are incredibly reliant on the communication of our peers, more so than any other living creature on this planet. We can now connect to our distant cousins on the other side of the world without spending a fortune on phone calls – we can chat freely and whenever we like.
A Hatred Epidemic?
There is no doubt about it, the cyber world can be a cruel place to be at times, with cyber bullying emerging as a serious problem among young people today and leading to an increase in anxiety, depression and in the worst cases suicide. This is a problem that is in desperate need of a solution, but we cannot condemn social media for being the sole cause of this so called ‘hate epidemic’.
The ability to communicate a message on such a vast scale at lightning speed has not just led to anger and hostility amongst communities of people, but has also created something pretty special – the opportunity to inspire the world with a single story.
The recent tragedy in Sydney, Australia, where an armed man took hostages in a café, instigated an incredible reaction on social media. Instead of sparking a hate campaign against the Muslim community, as would often be the case in many other Western countries, the world saw Australia offer a heart-warming reaction to the tragedy. The hashtag #illridewithyou was started by Sydney resident and TV content editor and writer Tessa Kum.
This simple hashtag set off a chain reaction and Tessa’s message spread across the world in a matter of hours. Soon, Sydney locals were sending out an astonishing 198 tweets per minute, all pledging to walk side by side with Muslims who were scared to travel in fear of falling victim to Anti-Muslim backlash. This example of humanity could not have been spread so fast and so effectively without the help of social media.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen story after story highlighting the kindness and selfless acts of individuals towards the homeless around the country, restoring faith in humanity. It is sometimes difficult to see the good in the world, what with acts of terror taking place all around us, but social media has opened our eyes to the small acts of goodness that are happening every day.
A homeless man offered a young lady his last £3.00 so that she could get home safe, a selfless act that occurred through his concern for her safety. That kindness resulted in the young lady Dominque raising thousands of pounds in return for the homeless man, who has since been identified as Robbie.
Liam Bond shared his story about how he decided to spend his £50 that he would have spent on a Friday night out, on as much food as possible to give to the homeless, sparking the hashtag #TLBHomelessHamper. Liam managed to give five homeless people a decent hamper of food each and has been urging others to follow his lead ever since.
The Good Outweighing the Bad
These stories are only a select few from the last week or so. There are still hashtags and stories trending every single minute that are promoting the goodness in people. Social media has, and always will be, under a lot of scrutiny and receive lots of criticism with regards to trolling, bullying and hatred. Unfortunately, as in the real world, these kinds of vindictive people will always exist.
Social media allows us to appreciate the little laughs, the inspiring stories and the messages from friends and family from all over the world. Remember the tips and tricks, the jokes and the advice. The list can go on, but I think what is clear is that yes, we are too quick to judge and the good influence of social media definitely outweighs the bad press it often receives!