Essay on the effects of social media on different countries

When it comes to the topic of social media, things like Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging, most of us would agree that these new technologies are the wave of the future. Although it seems that millions of users have more than welcomed these media sites, there are still some controversies surrounding their usefulness and intent. Published in The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a convincing article titled, “ Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” Gladwell argues the differences between real social change and social networking. Real social change, as Gladwell states, can only be accomplished through “ strong ties.” Twitter and Facebook are considered to provide only “ weak ties”, Gladwell explains. Most would agree that Twitter and Facebook are excellent at keeping us in contact with acquaintances that we normally would not keep in contact with. As Gladwell puts it, “ Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.”
On the other side of the argument are those avid users of sites like Twitter and Facebook. In response to Gladwell’s article, The Atlantic published an article written by Biz Stone titled, “ Exclusive: Biz Stone on Twitter and Activism.” In his essay, Stone argues that social media can make big differences. Stone contends, “ Lowering the barrier to activism does not weaken humanity, it brings us together and makes us stronger.”
Although I mostly agree with Gladwell’s argument, I can also see some validity to Stone’s rhetoric response. What makes me agree with both is not necessarily, how I view social media. It is rather how social media is in use in different countries. I would argue that Twitter and Facebook have proved to be important tools in effecting change in other countries, but I’m not convinced it has been as useful in America.
I recently came across an article from Germany’s international broadcaster, called “ Deutsche Welle, or DW” where they shared the views of human rights activists from many different countries on social media. Amr Badr from Egypt states, “ Modern communication strategy platforms such as Twitter and Facebook had a great influence on protest movements as they facilitated reaching a larger number of protesters and eased organizing protests in addition to media coverage.” Another activist, Lila Bellou from Greece says, “ In the case of the “ Arab Spring”, social media obviously helped the people who have no other ways to communicate and express their ideas, to be organized in their struggle to achieve democracy.” A Japanese teacher from Russia, Isabelle Magkoeva adds, “ Thanks to these social media platforms; information is quickly spread throughout the country about state violence, repression and voter manipulation. You can’t underestimate the abilities of Facebook and Twitter to mobilize people for mass actions in the streets. They are simply the most efficient instrument for doing this.”
America has proved to be a much more envious and selfish country than most. We are never satisfied with what we have. We are always looking at others with jealousy and envy. Social media has only added to these issues. Instead of using social media to spread the word of injustices and corruption, and to provide a platform where people can come together to fight against these things, social media has become a place for people to “ like” their favorite fashions or “ follow” their favorite entertainment stars. In America, Twitter users post millions of tweets every day and Facebook users share millions of links every day about the entertainment and fashion industries. Many of them also post “ play-by-play” of their daily activities. If you ever want to know where someone is, just go on their Facebook page. So again I ask, “ Do Americans use social media the way it was intended?”
Another article which describes Americans’ poor usage of social media was published in The Los Angeles Times titled, “ Elan Gale’s inglorious Twitter hoax,” written by Meghan Daum. In her review of the widely followed Twitter hoax, Daum points out some inglorious ways in which Twitter is used in America. She retells a story of Elan Gale, a television producer that started tweeting details of the outrageously rude behavior of a passenger due to their delayed flight home for Thanksgiving. Daum writes, “ Not content to simply remind Diane that she wasn’t the only one who wanted to get home to her family and that she should treat the crew with respect, he added ‘ I hate you very much’ and extended an invitation for her to perform a lewd act on him.” Elan Gale’s twitter feed immediately became the talk on blogs and news sites everywhere. Surprisingly, most were praising him for standing up to the rude passenger. What was even more surprising is that this was all just a hoax. Gale made up the entire story and made a tweet of it to thousands of people. Even after the word got out that this was all made up, Gale received over 100, 000 new followers on his Twitter account. Is this how we create social change; by not confronting the person or the issue head on, rather by tweeting it for people around the world to “ like” and “ follow”? I think freedom in America causes us to take advantage of new technologies like social media. Americans are spoiled and we have the freedom to say what we think. Although I enjoy our freedom, I can’t help but wonder if social media is being used effectively in America.
It seems where greater oppression is apparent, social media is more useful. In countries like Russia, Egypt and China, social media can be their only means of communicating the horrible injustices going on around them. It can be a great tool for activists in these countries to spread the word of rallies and protests in a quick and efficient manner. Yong Hu wrote about some of the benefits of social media in China in his article published in Project Syndicate titled “ The Revolt of China’s Twittering Classes.” Hu says, “ Twitter has become a major tool to promote contentious politics in China. It can effectively link discourse and action, generate widespread campaigns, and forge common ground among rights activists, public intellectuals, and all kinds of Twitter users.”
Social media is a controversial subject; some will argue that social media cannot create big change, while others argue that it definitely can. Though I concede that the evidence of social media’s effectiveness in countries like China and Russia have proved to be true, I still insist that there is no evidence of its effectiveness in creating big change in America.

Works Cited

Daum, Meghan. “ Elan Gale’s Inglorious Twitter Hoax.” Los Angeles Times Online. Los Angeles Times, 5 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Jan. 2014.
Hu, Yong. “ The Revolt of China’s Twittering Classes.” Project Syndicate.” 14 Oct. 2010: World Affairs. Web. 21 Jan. 2014.
Gladwell, Malcolm. “ Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The New Yorker Online. The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2010. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.
Stone, Biz. “ Exclusive: Biz Stone on Twitter and Activism.” The Atlantic Online. The Atlantic, 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
“ How Our Activists View Social Media.” Deutsche Welle. DW Online, 27 May 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
Positive Points.
– The essay is very persuasive and is provided with adequate support research by quoting from other writers.
– The flow of the essay is smooth and it is very interesting to read.
– Thesis is supported with adequate support from related articles.
Points that need improvement.
– More knowledge about the usage of MLA style; regarding the font style and size, in-text citation and reference page is required.
– The tone used can be slightly more formal. (Can avoid usage of colloquial sentence structure. (Eg. new technologies are the wave of the future.)This will improve the impression and seriousness of the essay.