I have heard a lot of news stories that bemoan the effects of social media and the internet in general on this young generation. The problems they identify range from very short attention spans to a total rewiring of the adolescent brain. The stories that I am referring to provide all kinds of solutions to the problem. One solution that rises to the surface more and more is the total abandonment of the internet all together. I will say clearly that I am not a proponent of that approach. I don’t believe that leaving all social media and other internet sites is the solution.
I am not arguing about the problems that this generation faces with their use of the internet. They clearly have some huge hurdles to overcome. For sure there needs to be some limits placed on adolescents and their use of social media. But society has faced these problems before (smaller magnitude). With the advent of television, a generation of people had to learn to navigate the proper use of that new medium. With the advent of gaming in the 80’s and 90’s a generation had to learn it’s proper use. The same is true today. This generation and their parents are navigating the proper use of the internet and social media.
What I find interesting is the continued onslaught of the mass news media to tell us how bad social media is to kids, and everyone else. Why only point out the problems? Why encourage people to use social media less? Why encourage people to spend less time giving their opinion and feedback?
The answer is clear to me. Social media, blogging, youtube, and the internet in general is a threat to these news outlets. Why? Because they have to tell the truth. Well ideally they have to tell the truth. I know we aren’t there yet. But over the next several years, as the older generation passes away, the major news outlets will be forced to tell the truth. They can no longer spread propaganda and lies. Why? because everyone will then be a reporter. Anyone who has a smart phone and a social account can go in search of the truth. This already happens today. If the major news outlets won’t tell us the truth then there are 1000 other people with phone in hand that will.
You see the mass media banks on the fact that you are going to sit down and consume their content every night. They count on the baby boomer generation and older to watch, consume, and believe all of the stories and opinions that are shared on their network. But the news outlets know that this is changing. They know that the generation that sits and soaks is dying. They know that the new generation does not sit and soak. But they interact with the news. They connect with it at anytime of the day. They talk back. They have opinions and they aren’t afraid to share them.
This terrifies the major news outlets (My assumption). At least it should. Because they face a dramatic loss of viewers. And therefore a dramatic loss in power. It is already apparent that this generation consumes in different ways. That is why Ben Shaprio, the Huffington Post, The Skimm, CRTV, and other news and social sites have taken off and are doing well. They are providing this generation with the news they want (truth) when they want it (now) in a format that they love (social). This is a recipe for demise for news organizations that are unwilling to change and for organizations that are unwilling to tell the truth.
Just think of what has happened over the last year with so many high powered individuals being taken down by sexual abuse allegations. From Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer the truth about their lives has been brought to light. It is good and it is right and these women were empowered because they could tell their stories freely, openly, and together. There is more of this to come. Not just on this subject. People who have been doing evil and hiding it are going to have the light shown on them. I hope the same for those who do good with their lives.
The term for this demise of mass media is called democratization. Democratization is the action of making something accessible to everyone. In this case the truth will be available to everyone. When enough people, phone in hand, care about the truth more than they care about an agenda then the truth will come to the top. The problem, as I am sure you are aware, is those people with phone in hand have to want to see the truth. We have to want to see the truth, even if its not in line with our worldview.
Now I know that a system (the internet) is only as solid as its members. Meaning that if the members of the system are bent on seeking and maintaining power and control then the truth doesn’t come to the top. Their version of the truth comes to the top. Which by definition would be a lie. (By this I mean that they know something to be true but intentionally distort it to fit their agenda). And that brings me to the summary of this article and the reason why we need not, should not, and cannot abandon the internet. To keep the system at least in search of the truth we must maintain a presence there. We must speak what is right and true and righteous.
So sure, use the social media wisely, but don’t abandon it all together. Be there. Not just consuming but helping to always point the system toward the truth. A daunting task indeed. But a necessary task at that.
There is so much more to be said on this topic. I am sure the first question many of you have is: “Yeah ok, what is truth?” And that is a good question. Let’s start by saying this, “Truth is what really happened.” For the context of the news media, if they just told us what really happened we would be doing a lot better.
And also how? How do we continually point the system toward truth? Honestly that is something I am still thinking about.
If you have any ideas I would love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments.
Other than that have a great day and keep fighting for the truth.