Tag Archives: social

Social Media’s Influence on Human Interaction

I’m sure if you are reading this that you use some form of social media.  It’s everywhere you look. Social media is a fixture in our lives in the United States. The internet and social media are so embedded in our daily life that it dominates our language. It’s also starting to influence the way we interact with one another.  Social media sites are supposed to bring people together but sadly it seems to be ripping us apart. My goal is to shed light on the issues surrounding interaction via social media and a few simple techniques to mitigate toxic behavior on the internet.

The political climate of the United States is quite turbulent to say the very least.  Everyone has a platform to express their views on the internet without a filter. Our echo chambers are becoming cauldrons of toxicity and it’s changing the way humans interact with one another. It seems as though we are not capable of engaging in debates of any sort without it dissolving into insults, personal attacks and even violence.

How bad is it, really? Well, according to Chamath Palihapitya, former vice-president of user growth at Facebook, claims that social media sites like Facebook are creating “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”. What a terrifying thought.  We are supposed to be more connected than ever but we seem to be disconnecting ourselves from one another.

So what do we do? An article written by John Coate, dating all the way back to 1998 covers many steps to maintain an online community. In his article he discusses free speech. I think many of us in the United States take that right for granted.  Our online communities are derailing into silence brigades.  Individuals with opposing view points are expected to hate one another.  These tools of social media are creating online communities that have no chance to incubate thought provoking dialog between two parties.  Coate goes on to explain in the same section covering free speech that public online interactions should be moderated to ensure that the online community is preserved. However, Facebook has no official moderator. There are guidelines Facebook follows to delete or censor content but it is not a transparent process nor does it ensure a healthy interaction between two parties online. I think the solution to this divisive pattern of social media is to use Facebook less and use other moderated forums such as Reddit.com or Sputnik.org.  It would be foolish to say drama and divisive actions do not occur on other social media sites. However, taking into consideration what Chamath Palihapitya has disclosed about what Facebook is doing to our society, we do not have any other choice but to change our actions to ensure we progress as a society.

 

Is Social Media Bullshit?

2613_O1aDBC4J

In my next three blogs, I’ll focus on the current and future state of social media, especially its connection to marketing, public relations, and society. I hope to shed some wisdom on the subject from my perspective as a professional in the media and non-profit industries, while referencing our class readings.

In the wake of the recent Parkland school shooting, social media has been used as a critical tool by all sides to politicize and capitalize on the event. However, it is the youth who have been outmaneuvering and outdoing their adult counterparts on social media during this movement.

For example, when Donald Trump, Jr. “liked” two news article that pushed the notion that a few vocal Parkland students were hired actors, one of the students reached out to Melania Trump – who has a White House initiative to stop cyber-bullying – to ask:

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 4.51.26 PM

A “like” on Twitter by Donald Trump Jr. can have a enormous effect because he has over 2 million followers, who will inevitably perpetuate the false news. The result of the youth strategically, and naturally, pushing back through social media has resulted in Melania Trump supporting the youth and a recent meeting with one of the Parkland survivors.

This is a good example of the effectiveness of social media as a public relations and social engagement tool. But on the other side of the coin is the equally adept, but terrifying, use of social media to motivate and activate the Parkland school shooter, as well as others who have come before him. (I’m intentionally omitting the Parkland shooter’s name as to not bring him more attention, which was part of his motivation.) The Parkland school shooter and others have used social media to promote their twisted agenda, to learn how to kill effectively and efficiently, and to gain support for their actions.

So is social media bullshit?

I feel that B. J. Mendelson’s book “Social Media is Bullshit” is a misleading title. It’s not that social media is bullshit, it’s that certain individuals are bullshit and they use tools to further their horrible agendas. The book’s author, B. J. Mendelson, asserts, “All marketers, professional or amateur, are full of crap.” This statement and too many others in his book are expressed absolutes and hyperbolical.toolbelt

I’ve been working in the media industry for the past 20 years and the non-profit industry for nearly the past 10 years. Since my background and experiences are more rooted in traditional media (Film, TV, radio, print, etc.), I can see the evolution from previous forms of media to today’s, with the evolution of technology.

Similar to the past, it’s not that media, or even social media, is “bullshit”. Media is simply a tool. As with all tools, it can be used for good and it can also be used for bad. Take a hammer for instance. A hammer is a useful tool when building something. However, in the wrong hands, it could also be used as a weapon to kill someone. Again, the same instrument is merely a tool.

 

We can’t handle the truth, but how much have we really got?

I would like to share with you an unfolding of events that begins awfully, gets kinda gross in the middle, and ends up sorta good but not great. Confused? Good, let’s begin!

 

 

saddawson

The Awfulness

In 2013, Gurbaksh Chahal, CEO and Chairman of RadiumOne, was charged with 45 felonies for beating his girlfriend 117 times during an altercation. According to law enforcement the girlfriend stated that, after finding out she cheated on him, Chahal attacked her, stated several times he was going to kill her, and she feared for her life. Law enforcement also claims to have recovered a surveillance video that showed 30 minutes of the assault.

In a perfect world, this would make for a slam-dunk case that puts a mega-jerk-lady-hitting-pig behind bars. Victim testimony and video of the crime seems like plenty of evidence to ease the mind of the prosecutor.

Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world. No, no we don’t.

 

 

targetlady

Ew, Gross!

First, the video was thrown out as evidence.

Then, the girlfriend decided to go ahead and not cooperate with the police anymore nor testify against Chahal. This happened after both parties lawyered-up (I smell a pay-off, anyone else?).

So, most of the charges were dropped and Chahal ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanors: one count of domestic violent battery and one count of battery. His punishment? Three years probation, 25 hours of community service, a $500 fine and he must attend a 52-week domestic violence training program (doesn’t that sound like he’s going to be taught how to get better at beating women? ValleyWag should reword that sentence).

Chahal avoided jail, and I think he’s damn lucky. And when this came out, it seemed like his previously charmed life would stay relatively charming.

Gurbaksch Chahal says, "Yay, I win!!"
Gurbaksch Chahal says, “Yay, I win!!”

 

 

pleased

The good, I guess.

Well, things started to get worse for Chahal. People were pretty ticked off about this whole thing and social media sites were blowing up with comments about how unjust it was that he didn’t get jail time.

Chahal’s company, RadiumOne, started losing business.

And then he lost his job. There is some speculation as to whether Chahal knew about his pink slip when he published this blog post in which still refers to himself as the CEO. In the post, he also denies he hit his (hopefully now ex?!) girlfriend 117 times. Which seems reasonable – it’s not that he didn’t hit her, he just wants to point out it’s not that bad since it wasn’t that many times. Oh, ok! I’m sure we can all sympathize and forgive you for only mildly abusing her, no big deal.

Chahal also denies in his post that the video proves he committed such a heinous, drawn-out attack on the girlfriend. He claims that the video will only prove that the police abused him when they stormed his place, even though he was being cooperative. Not everyone is convinced. But Chahal isn’t faded, he knows we just “can’t handle the truth.”

It seems like if Chahal is telling the truth and the video’s content has been exaggerated, he should just release the video. Then we can all agree he’s not such a bad guy! For some reason, though, Chahal hasn’t done that yet. I have a feeling this isn’t the only offer being made to see that video.

 

 

bill-cosby-confused-face-475x365

So…is this a happy ending, or…? 

I doubt the public will get the chance to see the video, as I’m sure it’s been destroyed. Yes, I’m just a cynical old crank like that. Without proof, it’s going to be tough to determine if Chahal really lucked out on this one (or just how much freedom money can buy), or if the contents of the video were in fact blown out of proportion.

I do know one thing about Chahal: his post reveals that he believes there are justifications for domestic abuse e.g.,  your girlfriend having sex for money in Las Vegas. However rude of her that might have been, I’m sorry dude, but nope. Wrong. Does not computer. We may never know exactly what happened that night with his girlfriend, but it’s pretty obvious this guy is a clueless a-hole when it comes to violence against women.

A footnote: full disclosure, I’m going to think this guy put the beat down on his girlfriend until he releases that video and shows us otherwise. He brought it up, basically said it proves his innocence, but it hasn’t been released. So yes, I’m coming from a very biased viewpoint.)