Good and evil co-exists with social media

Posted by Gina Pappas on October 13, 2010 |

The influence of the media has always been evident. Tracing back to the early days, when news outlets were reporting on the controversy surrounding Elvis and his swiveling hips, the ability of the media to touch lives and influence thoughts has had a profound impact on society.

Today, social media adds another dimension to the influence of the news we see and hear, especially the type of news that influences young people.

One example of how social media is attempting to do the most good is the recent “It Gets Better” campaign, which shows celebrities (and, more recently, non-celebrities) encouraging young, gay Americans to soldier on in spite of the recent hate-induced suicides. The “It Gets Better” series is completely viral and hard to ignore.

Visit the “It Gets Better” channel on YouTube.

But let’s take a step back. In reality, social media is part of the reason the “It Gets Better” campaign came to fruition. Without social media, perhaps the movement wouldn’t be necessary. If 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi hadn’t jumped to his death after an intimate encounter was broadcast on the internet, the harm that can be caused by social media may not be evident at all.

Or could it be that the “It Gets Better” campaign is long overdue, bringing attention to a problem that has always existed but is now receiving media attention due to the inhumane nature of the discrimination that has taken place?

Regardless of how America got to this place, if social media is the cause of the problem or part of the solution, we need to figure out how to use its impact and reach for good, not evil.

Unfortunately, the Clementi suicide isn’t the first and most likely isn’t the last instance of how the internet and social media can change so many lives for the worse. The solution, if and when tragedy strikes again, is for our country to pull together and use the power and influence of social media to turn something awful into an opportunity to have a teachable moment – not just for our young people, but for all of us.

 

 

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