(jka) Before we address the social media as a single entity, let us analyze on how ‘homogeneous’ is the crowd that constitutes this ‘supposed’ influence group.
Though the current global discourses point towards the major role that social media play and could play, it would be a partial view of the big picture that is emerging. Many factors like the level of openness that is inherent in a society, the form of government that is ruling, the historical data on people’s response to popular movements/Activism in a particular region is not considered, when organizations jump on to conclusions about the role that social media could play. They seek to simplify the social media engagement and its influences only through further simplified variables like followers, fans, likes and shares. What we fail to understand is that actions are effected by individuals and not virtual numbers.
We need to understand that in case of India, social media influence is usually overestimated. Views may lie but numbers don’t . A rough back of the envelope calculation would prove that, though the active users are growing the tangible activity isn’t as much as we would expect . So we need to keep our expectations realistic and engage this growing crowd with information and debates .
And just as how I mentioned, “social media activity shouldn’t be overestimated” , Our society’s empathy should also be not overestimated. ‘Empathy’ is a major factor that played out in Arab countries as Arab spring. And hence we need to factor in the level of empathy, that social media could elicit in our target population.
However this doesn’t mean that Social Media is just a passing hype that has to be ignored. It means that our perception of Social Media needs to factor in diverse factors above mentioned in order to course-correct our expectations and the type of social media campaigns that we would seek to undertake.
The role that social media plays now is, developing a Collective consciousness. And that is in fact needs to be aroused for our society to be sensitive about perpetrated crimes and pressing issues . In case of perpetration of crime against women, We are still living in a society where a significant percentage of people from all levels share a thought that these crimes are brought upon by the victim .So that means the level of empathy is very low that is clouded by issues like the social class of the girl,her age,the community she is from and so on. When such is the case , these Facebook statuses, Likes,tweets,memes,photos and shares are indeed playing a great role in keeping these incidents in our collective memory with a sense of empathy.
So on the whole, I believe that Social Media as a system is deserved to be understood better and that would enable us to reach out to people with earnest intent and brimming confidence.
Coming back to the question of ‘Reform’, only an organic growth would stand the tough times and that’s the reason why Social media needs to internalize ‘humane’ aspects to behave as an super-organism, in order to effect our Aspirations. Because its ‘WE’ who constitute ‘Social Media’ and not ‘Little Green Men/Women from Mars’.