Phil, Ally, Megan, and Max (otherwise known as PAMM) are back this week for our Café Discussion Group. The topic was social media, more specifically Twitter. We thought it would be interesting and informative. Thus, we set out to explore the ways in which social media has permeated and changed our culture. Why Twitter? It was actually the first one we came up with.
However, the more we thought about it, Twitter was a great example of emergent culture that dominant culture has incorporated and allowed to thrive. The masses were given voice and “power,” while the dominant ideology is using it to their advantage. Politicians, institutions, and governments politicize social media using it as a means of dispersion. Although the people are allowed a “voice,” it is a significantly monitored and censored voice. Recent NSA leaks seem to point to a pattern in this.
It could be argued that the protests and revolutions in the Arab Spring were fueled and started through social media especially Twitter, yet through this lens it could also be argued that with a government that more correctly wields its ideology (like the U.S.), these revolutions would not have happened. In short, we realized that social media is a two way street of censorship, domination, and protest/civil disobedience.
Even though on the surface, social media looks like a two way street, it is important to look more closely at the interaction between the general public and dominant institution. Yes, the general masses have a say but ultimately those voices are still influenced and often time completely altered by dominant powers. In some ways it is as if social media has given the general population a false sense of being able to freely express thoughts but instead it is that hope that allows the dominant power to maintain a way of regulating and influencing popular belief and movements.