The TED talk we watched, by Henry Jenkins, got me thinking.
Digital media, particularly social media, is a wonderful thing for participatory societies. Using the example of “Peter,” a young man living with his aunt and uncle who is active in his community via social networking, always works to make it a better place, and is an amateur photographer, he illustrates that anyone can be a “superhero” in this day and age. The Peter he was talking about is, of course, Peter Parker, and it would stand to reason that one does not need to be bit by a radioactive spider to be a hero anymore.
Social media allows us to organize, to familiarize ourselves with millions of people from around the world with common interests, and to bring them together to achieve a common and singular purpose. It has been said that the sinews of Democratic power is collective action. Whether collective action is taken to mean a Political Action Committee, a 501c3, or just a large group of Harry Potter fans working to better the world around them, said action really is democracy at work.
As a proponent of Democracy and a lover of freedom, seeing such organization happening gets me absolutely giddy. The level of action that can be taken, the protests that can be brought about and the intelligent debates that can be had… it’s all quite wonderful. However, as That Mitchell and Web Look pointed out, the opinions of many of the internet’s denizens essentially equate to beating their fists on their keyboard and screaming in a guttural tone about how angry they are that someone else has an opinion.
Just as well, schools and businesses seem to not be huge fans of social media. They ban it relentlessly. Whilst I can see their concern, I must state my personal opinion: Blocking a website is pointless. We’re too smart. We break these blockers with the finesse of a locksmith. Stop wasting your time and money and spend it somewhere else.