BY: JUSEPH ELAS
Last August 26, Monday, the Philippines saw what a Facebook post can do. Ito Rapadas intended the post to be viewed solely by his colleagues who are social media active, particularly on Facebook. He was totally oblivious as to where the post can go nor he had no idea of its consequences. Ito said in a Facebook comment how he wasn’t even a part of the impromptu gathering at Luneta, planned online. However, we saw the ripples of responses and where it generally led – Million People March.
The Million People March was a palpable and feasible evidence of how people would react in a matter that concerns the people’s interest, it was a result of how affected the people are especially when their money, that were born out of hard work, is concerned; and it was a result of how powerful social media is today, in its present form.
Looking back in 2001, when former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was put to an impeachment trial, a decision was made to rule out a presentation of key evidence against him. Within a couple of hours, a text message circulated among the general public saying, “Go 2 EDSA. Wear blk.” And they did. People started to fill the stretch of Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) crying out for justice and hoping for the conviction of the then president.
It was such a chilling vista and an even more alarming number of people, that legislators reversed their previous decision and presented the evidence before the court.
All these are figures and images of the ripples social media can create and how it can be so powerful that it can bring people to gather for a larger cause. It’s so powerful that it can cripple a veto, it is so chillingly powerful that it can control even those who are in power.
How Far Has It Come?
Since the rise of the internet in the 1990s, the landscape of communication has become denser and more participatory; it attracted stakeholders – ranging from activist, housewives, politicians, students, teachers, and even a five year-old – from the low millions to low billions worldwide.
Social media also attracted advertisers and made a good profit because of it. Since many people are using the internet and has become a basic necessity over the years, advertisers saw it as an opportunity to extend their reach through social media and saw it as a safe platform where they can endorse their product without paying that much.
We also saw how social media connects people given their distance geographically. This, perhaps, is the biggest contribution of social media to people who are into it and to the modern world today.
With its power and efficiency to connect people, social media ousted the manual mails of the picture, and chats replaced it.
In the years to come, social media will continue to develop and will continue to reinvent itself to suit the needs of the people.
The Pitfalls of Social Media
Cable News Network (CNN) reported in 2009 about an employee who had been reprimanded because of a tweet he posted on Twitter, a social networking giant. Luckily for that employee, he was just reprimanded. On a different note, another employee tasted the brunt of her manager when she posted on her Facebook page regarding how boring her job is. The manager then dismissed her from her job saying “Following your comments made on Facebook about your job and the company we feel it is better that, as you are not happy and do not enjoy your work we end your employment with Ivell Marketing & Logistics with immediate effect.”
In this picture, we saw another powerful effect of social media in terms of how bad it can be. Issues like this triggered debates online saying that it wasn’t the fault of social media why those employees went through those consequences.
Psychologically and emotionally, social media also can lead to stress for some. A report came out about a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide after she was allegedly bullied on Ask.fm.
Social media can be a tool towards advances in the fields of education, business, entertainment and even politics. However, pitfalls are inevitable. Up to this day, this issue remains a Grayline and there have been several charities and organization dedicated to mitigate the harms of social media to its users.
The power of social media encompasses the good and the bad. Its potential has to be recognized by many of us to have a better understanding of how to use it responsibly and efficiently. Social media is good especially in the tone of bringing people together, connecting them in such a way. However, social media, just like any other breathing platforms, also do bring with it consequences which are fatal and harmful.