Social networking has become one of the most commonly used ways of managing communication, especially among youngsters. The use of the internet can be of benefit to a social group; it can also be used wrongfully leading to the disruption of public peace and harmony. Disparities of gender and age are among the issues most discussed in the social media today. Various people have different perspectives on the role of the social media in the society; some see it as a platform that can be used for business, others see it as a platform for political discussions, while others view it as a platform for interaction and creation of social networks. To understand social networking better, one needs to look at it in terms of its contribution to oppression, revolution, and symbolic action.
Oppression of people based on their skin color, gender and religion is one of the vices people perpetrate on the internet. According to Janus, social networking technology is used for information sharing through communication. The use of social media in spreading information makes it easier to spread racial hate among millions of people within a short period. It is important to note that there is a thin line between the use of social networking for oppressing people and using its use in the liberation of people from oppression. That is to mean, social networking can be used effectively for oppressing people just as it can be used to make people stop oppressing others based on their differences such as gender and race. One example of the way people can use online social networking to oppress others is through the spread of advertisements that associate the black people with either crime of lower IQ as compared to the white people. According to the article by Modefi Kete Asante, "racial realism" is one of the issues that people should not assume (Asante, 2011). By "racial realism", he means that the differences between the white people and the black exist and should not be assumed.
Green Revolution in Iran is one evidence of the massive use of Twitter to spread information about violence in the country to the rest of the world. The social media can be a powerful information-sharing tool that is difficult to control, especially when issues of public interest such as politics are involved. Even at the wake of the "regime's Net crackdown," a steady outflow updates on the events of the revolution made it impossible for the government to contain the situation and prevent the world from getting privy to the happenings (Keller, 2010). It is true to say that during the post-election violence in Iran in the year 2009 there was a social media revolution. For example, Twitter, email, and blogs were the most effective channels used in passing pieces of information and coordinating rallies (Keller, 2010). In Iran, videos, pictures, and posts were shared to the outside world so fast that the journalists remained stunned. The success of the Green Revolution in Iran should be considered as one of the instances of successful use of the internet for social networking purposes (Keller, 2010). Since the government can manipulate the mass media, it is considered as one of the ways that the politicians in Iran tried to topple the revolution. On the other hand, the social media was considered the 'savior' of the revolution as provided an alternative way of sharing information and informing the world on what would otherwise remain a secret to the rest of the world.
Symbolic action can be defined as expressive human action; it includes the rhetoric use of symbols to generate identification, induce corporation, enable persuasion, or promote division among people of different races or gender. The online social networks can be one of the most effective ways that people use symbolic action for its various purposes. Words or images can be used in the social media to pass a message. For instance, when people share images of people shot in the streets and of people demonstrating along the streets, it becomes apparent to the social media users that access such contents that the intention is to spread information about an ongoing, intended or past violence (Asante, 2011). Such contents can then be widely shared leading to the massive spread of information about events that people would not know about easily. For example, politicians can use symbolic language to communicate to their followers, organize rallies, and pass critical pieces of information to electorates. Politicians can use symbolic action to enhance peace or perpetrate violence.
In summary, various people use the internet to enhance social networking, especially in situations of political, gender and racial disparities. The fact that the internet has converted the world into a global village makes it easier for people to use the platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram among others to either promote unity and equality among genders and races or capitalize of gender and race-based prejudice. It is important to note that politicians can either use symbolic action through the social media to either bring unity among people or lead to division.
Asante, M. (2011). Race, Intelligence and the Limits of Science: Reflections on the Moral Absurdity of "Racial Realism". Retrieved from http://www.timwise.org/2011/08/race-intelligence-and-the-limits-of-science-reflections-on-the-moral-absurdity-of-racial-realism/
Asante, M. (2011). Racism, Violence and the Irony of Stereotypes. Retrieved from http://www.timwise.org/2011/08/racism-violence-and-the-irony-of-stereotypes/
Keller, J. (2010). Evaluating Iran's Twitter Revolution. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/06/evaluating-irans-twitter-revolution/58337/
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