Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Sometimes Scary, Sometimes Spectacular Power of Social Media

EDITOR'S NOTE: We at are pleased to welcome Liz Downey as a contributing correspondent. Downey is a Norwell resident, who holds a master's degree in English from Bridgewater State College and in 2009 earned a bachelor's from Stonehill College in English and theater arts. We look forward to her submissions. She has her own website, and can be reached via email at

By Liz Downey
BrocktonPost Correspondent
Two weeks ago, a popular Southern California DJ who goes by the name of Kaskade tweeted about what was supposed to be a small, private, invitation-only film screening of The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
He spilled the details of this event in a single 140-character hiccup that echoed to the timelines of his 90,000 followers:
Of course, it wasn’t until that evening when Kaskade, overcome by police riot squads, circling helicopters, and thousands of fans who filled the streets of Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard, tweeted:
He just tweeted that a little too late.
Many of the thousands were already out-of-control, jumping on top of squad cars, and subsequently, arrested.
For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, adding a hashtag (#) to a word or phrase can help it trend on Twitter. For something to trend on Twitter, great numbers of people have to tweet about the hashtagged keyword or phrase in order for it to show up on the Twitter website as a “trending topic.”
Today, my boyfriend messaged me about a startling, trending topic on Twitter: #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend.
The “trend” was tweeted amongst hateful and angry statements and inappropriate uses of humor.
It was also met by users horrified by the trend, who sought to renounce anyone making light of physical abuse.
Of course, these do-gooders overlooked the fact that replying to and reusing the hashtag only strengthens its “trendiness.”
What probably began as one inappropriate joke grew to unimaginably large proportions because it was broadcast on the Internet.
What these stories really should be telling you is that what you say matters. Yes--it does.
What you say on the Internet matters beyond the scope of your imagination.
And yet, this power can be also used for good.
If you say interesting things, seem likeable and passionate about your topic, you will harness more of an audience. Crafting the perfect tweet or Facebook status can generate more of these people. Eloquence is empowered if your message has a call to action.
In this case, saying stuff online can be a lead generator for your business.
Social media has also been the hub of legal change.
The Casey Anthony Trial was the biggest trial to date on social media sites. I think, of course, that this trial will be surpassed at some point by an even more dramatic trial. Further, the population of people on these sites will continue to grow as the population does.
However, the important part is this: everyone had something to be mad about with Casey Anthony. Because of social media outlets, users were able to articulate specifically why they were enraged at her release: not notifying police of her daughter’s disappearance.
In response to the heavily texted and tweeted discussion, the people came together on Facebook creating a group to advocate a new legal measure called “Caylee’s Law” after Anthony’s daughter which would make it a criminal act not to report you child missing within 24 hours of his or her disappearance.
The page has over 690,000 Facebook Fans. The petition has over 1.25 million signatures.
Countless other examples could be cited. On the small side, pets and owners are reunited much more quickly.
On the large side, Egyptians used social networking to overthrow their government. Either way, it should be clear to you, reader, that social media isn’t a fad. It’s not going away.
It’s a force to deal with and to master.
Click here to view videos of the Kaskade riot on YouTube...
(Twitter logo courtesy of Egypt riot photo courtesy of friezsnake-YouTube. Caylee Anthony photo courtesy Casey Anthony photo courtesy Facebook)

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