I’m going to go out on a limb with my argument this week because honestly I feel very confused by all of the material that we have had to read throughout this course. One author tells us that social networking is responsible for for the most recent of social movements and is an amazing limitless resource that activists now need in order to create a successful movement. Other authors are saying that revolutions happened long before the advent of social media and we are stupid to believe that they are the key source in revolutions occurring today. The argument that I want to make with the support of this week’s Gladwell and Cohn articles is that we truly have no clue as to the power of social media and the only thing that will be able to prove if it works or not is time.
I liked Gladwell’s article in particular this week because he never sugar coats his argument. “People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.” (Gladwell) What he is saying is that we need to stop focusing on the role of social media in a revolution and instead concentrate on why these revolutions are happening in terms of the issues that people are having. He referenced the French Revolution in order to prove that word of mouth is the actual method of gathering people and social media has forged its way as the substitute for word of mouth. To add to his argument, I believe that revolutions would occur without the advent of social media, but these websites do bring more people to the protests or the rallies and those people are the ones who create the image that social media is an important tool. The people who genuinely care about the revolution are going to revolt regardless of if they have the support of their Twitter followers.
Moving on to the Cohn article, it begins by talking about how America.gov became obsolete because social networking did a better job of reaching the people. Also, social media cuts out the “chunkyness” or traditional government correspondence by simplifying the message. I can’t help but to criticize the government for lowering itself to the level of activists sitting alone in their parents’ basement tweeting about how corrupt a system is although they haven’t left their house in weeks. The entire article is hypocritical because it fails to mention why the government needs to keep up with social networking and that is because they are falling short of communicating effectively to the people in the absence of social networking. It is a cop-out and shows the lazy nature of the government. They are taking the example of activists and revolution leaders abroad in order to better their communication. It just seems really silly to me.
The question that I want to pose is basically if you agree or disagree with my argument that at this point in time we can not accurately gage the power of social networking. In such an early stage it is easy to credit social media with being this unbelievable source that will change how the world gathers, but are we ignoring the long-term uses?