Being someone who is avidly into social media, I have found that my postings, whether it is on Facebook or Linked In or Twitter can reach a lot more people than if I was communicating with others on email or through other more traditional means such as the telephone.
Indeed, the technology for social media and outreach to the masses is already here and is changing the way we communicate. For the first time in history, any individual with an internet connection is able to reach the masses around the world and push his message, his story or his agenda to everyone who can be reached via the internet. All this can be done within minutes and with a ridiculously low budget.
This indeed, is the disruption in mass communication. Just only decades before, the only way to reach to the public would have been through broadcast over the airwaves and if you did not own a radio or television station with all that expensive broadcast equipment, you would not be able to do this. Big corporations with budget for advertisement would be the only ones able to reach out and market their products to the masses.
Now all this has changed. However, as Peter Parker's gentle Uncle Ben said to him in the movie, "Spiderman", "With great powers come great responsibility". So as the media disruption has started, it is very important that those who now hold the power of mass communication, each and every individual who is able to tweet or blog on the internet is able to reach millions, and they should exercise discretion over their power to influence others.
This capability to transmit information in a flash, and to communicate instantly with massive numbers of people, therefore also increases the risk of communicating mis-information which can be a source of disruption to society at large. Other than that, political views which carry extremist messages can be propagated to large numbers which the authorities find difficult to counteract. Witness the recent recruitment of large numbers of people from so many different countries to support the Islamist terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq.
Therefore it is incumbent upon those who have this power to exercise it wisely and use the power that such technology affords us, for the betterment of mankind, instead of creating chaos and destruction.
This blog first appeared on Linked In on 11 September 2014. The link to the original blog posted by me is here.
Poh S. Lim