Social Media is a voice

imgresJournalism has always had a voice.  Articles have shed light on atrocities, reporters have uncovered stories that have been under wraps for decades.  Now we have social media.

There is something incredible about the ability to show or tell  a story publicly through a medium without having to talk to an audience but at the same time connect to an audience.  We have all heard stories of police brutality, rough neighborhoods where innocent people were hurt or killed, improper convictions, etc.  Most of these people never had the ability to let their voices be heard but through social media the rest of us are getting a lens into some of their daily lives.  The reaction is a movement pushing bystanders to stand up and say wait a second…this should not be happening.  Social media is giving people whose voices have rarely been heard be heard.

The “Cosby” women who have come out (and found each other) around the supposed rapes that have taken place over decades might not have shared their stories if it wasn’t for social media.

I just keep thinking about the voice of social media.  There is a slow rumbling of a movement afoot.  Having a platform for unspoken voices to finally speak up is not only empowering for those people but seriously enlightening for all of us.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Matt Kruza

    I am of two minds on this. Obviously what you are saying is happening to a good degree, and it is good for more marginalized voices to get more power. That is unquestionable. However in general I I am starting to and many people i know (particularly the middle-aged and older – lets say over 40) are starting to be so overwhelmed with so much “noise” and “stories” that they are either just seeking content that exclusively agress with them, or just tuning most information out as its too much to process. Not saying that there is a perfect solution to this balance, but there is information fatigue risk which is becoming a reality

    1. Gotham Gal

      Wading thru the noise is not easy but the good stuff boils to the top

      1. Matt Kruza

        I don’t think it does generally. In fact i think good businesses can / are being built on trying to get quality information. In general i think the sensationalist and most radical or mentally stimulating rises to the top. It is what it is for now and i think it will take a while for humans to shift into better evaluators of good content (obviously “good” is relative, and that is where some of the rub lies)

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Studies indicate that the good stuff does not necessarily boil to the top.What boils to the top are the stories that a few people begin to like and share and then others go along and agree with them. There have been many studies done on this. There was on published in the Harvard Business Review many years ago, during web 1.0. For the study, an online music forum was created. 20 different bands were were hired to create a new song. They split the users into two groups; each group was then split in half. In group one, all songs were released simultaneously to the first group of users, who were asked to rank which song was best. After a specified time period, group 1B was allowed entrance to the group and asked to rank the songs. The users in 1B just followed along with what was ranked best by group 1A.In group two, the songs were released one-by-one with the user group 2A being asked to rank all songs as they were released. What happened was the earliest songs released gained considerable ranking while the later ones stayed in their prospective release slots. When group 2B was allowed in, just like group 1B, they went along with the crowd.There are many other psychological studies that have been done to show this herd mentality. This is why most focus groups don’t often work; one or two people begin to lead, and the others just follow. An historic example of this is Nazi Germany. In the early days, before the Nazi’s had gained full control, most people just went about their business, not standing up against what they knew was wrong. Then, by the time the Nazis were in full force, people were trapped inside an authoritarian regime.This is human nature. Yes, we have new tools but human nature will always prevail.This is also why crowdsourcing will not kill curation. Crowdsourcing has it’s strengths but it also has it’s pitfalls. As does curation. Having both definitely has pros and cons as well.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Totally interesting. Reminds me of the experiments done at Yale post Holocaust by Professor Milgrom.

          2. Matt Kruza

            Yep, great comment. Curation will be increasingly important in the future.

      2. TanyaMonteiro

        just as it does on real life too

    2. Jess Bachman

      You’re right on. There are two problems. The first is that we create our own bubbles. It’s most likely the case that depending on who you follow/friend, these marginalized voices won’t come through, especially on Facebook.The second problem is just that its so damn noisy. Facebooks edgerank reduces noise but amplifys the echo chamber. Twitter has a very low signal/noise ratio and any algo they put in, which they will, will also just amplify the echo. Just take a look at the trending hashtags on any given day and you can see the “good stuff” really doesn’t boil to the top.We got a generation to share and post, great. But signal/noise will be the problem to face going forward, and I’m not convinced anyone has gotten that right yet.

      1. Matt Kruza

        Completely agree that no one has gotten it right yet. Part of the problem is the money isn’t in “getting it right”. Fundamentally this is the problem search engines “aim to solve” like google. But google doesn’t care about the end consumer, they care about advertisers, and more correctly stated the ADVERTISERS WHO WILL PAY THE MOST (aka adwords – which has some quality control metrics etc.). I say this as a cold-blooded capitalist. I do believe in the market place and don’t begrudge big, powerful companies, but indeed its important to recognize how the current reality is. The only long-term solution is for consumers to demand more / better. That is a necessary condition for an effective marketplace. I think we will get there (i am suprisingly optimistic in the long run) but probably still a decade or two off

        1. Jess Bachman

          Well.. considering the track record of the social networks that haven’t been funded through advertising… it maybe a dance with the devil we will have to take.

  2. johndodds

    I’m similarly hopeful but not all unspoken voices are good ones and the narcissistic events in Virginia are the reality check. The next one unfortunately will be Persicoped.

  3. William Mougayar

    “a platform for unspoken voices” – I like that description a lot.In social media, everyone has a voice. And that’s a great starting point for change and empowerment.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I dislike the word change. Maybe it’s just more information which leads to a better society. Markets are efficient-especially with more information. They price all information in. Happens in stocks, and it happens in the “marriage market” and other 100% human markets too!

      1. William Mougayar

        ok. ‘beginning of change” ?

    2. Jess Bachman

      Everyone has a voice outside of social media too. You just don’t hear it, unless you have some platform. Its the same with social media. Just look at the top 100 accounts on twitter, the biggest voices. It’s all people who have had existing audiences.The median twitter account has one follower… that’s a far cry from “everyone has a voice”.

      1. William Mougayar

        if we said “online” instead of social media, would that be comprehensive?

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Most of the individuals I follow on Twitter have 1,000 or so followers. Those are not likely all personal friends. And I am not a personal friend of most of the people I follow. I found them through Twitter.That’s way more voice than the average person had access to up ’til the existence of social media.

        1. Jess Bachman

          I suspect they had a voice prior to social media. I also suspect they are far from the average person.I’m sure you can attest to how meager the voice is, of someone like yourself with almost a thousand followers. I have almost 2,500 myself, and barely get any interaction.Before social media, if you have 2,500 followers you could start a religion, topple small governments, make things happen. Now, I’m lucky to get a retweet.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Interesting point. I’m not quite sure if we’re disagreeing or not 😉 You can *still* start a small religion with 2500 friends. But you could not reach 2500 people across the globe as easily before social media.It’s the new Ham radio, except way more people use it, and it has pictures and video!The reason I’m so enthusiastic about making this point is that I’ve made real life friends on Twitter that I would not have met otherwise. And I know other people who have done the same. I have heard the voices of people I doubt very much I would have otherwise known existed. Retweeting isn’t indicative of much of anything, actually. I don’t retweet most of what I see – doesn’t mean it didn’t reach me or affect me.When people say that social media is just a black hole, I really feel it’s because they haven’t found how to use it effectively yet (particularly Twitter).

          2. Jess Bachman

            Well… we will just have to disagree to agree then!

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            How I long to show you its wonders and mysteries 😉 Maybe someday!

  4. pointsnfigures

    Agree with you on this one more than you agree with yourself!As long as you use social media to listen, it works. I have also seen people unfairly attacked on social media. They have lost careers, jobs etc. because their opinion differed from the herd. We need to be very mindful of the first amendment. We need to be free to disagree.One thing I wonder about is what it would be like to have a 10 year old in a social media world. I was able to be a goofy kid and make mistakes that didn’t go on the internet to be saved forever. My kids are 24, 22, and they largely got that benefit. Middle school years and high school years can be so awkward (I am a perfect example). Social media can really alter that experience. Not sure what I think about it.It can be a wonderful way to learn things, interact etc. But, it has it’s dark side too.

    1. Jess Bachman

      This is why snap chat exists. I’ve got a teenager, and from what I’ve seen, the middle school and HS set really aren’t using social media like everyone else. It’s mostly IM tools and FB/TW are to follow (and RT) celebs accounts (most of which we have never heard of). Mistakes on social don’t seem to be an issue, because they are largely not being themselves… just ‘social versions’ of themselves.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        That is really interesting. I’ve got elementary school kids and just keep hoping they stay that age so they never get smart phones 😉

  5. TanyaMonteiro

    Social Media changed my life!