Sunday, May 29, 2011

Social Media: A Curse or a Blessing?

With seemingly no ‘control’ of what’s written on social media sites, have we opened the flood gates for the most unreal reality ‘show’ ever developed. In fact has social media given a voice to people who shouldn’t have a voice in the first place, those who can suddenly claim to have an unsubstantiated cure for one or more of the world’s problems?

Where is the reality check? And should there be one?

Should our children be able to access social media without any control about what is true and what is fantasy? Youngsters are easily influenced by those they consider role models – but how many real role models are giving solid sound advice through social media sites, which will help ‘guide’ our children forward and how many just love using these global networks for their own glorification through bullshit and shock appeal.

Most social media sites are meant to be moderated by their owners, but it seems these individuals, who have a crucial role in controlling content, are mostly out to lunch (and just forgot to put the sign in the window). In fact it seems to be more about quantity than quality – where the more ‘members’ or ‘followers’ I have the brighter and more popular I must be.

As a case in point on a discussion around accountability one gentleman recently wrote “Nigel, I will stand by my statement that management should not and cannot be trusted. My argument is a moral one that was suggested to me by my Auditing Professor decades ago and I have mulled it over and come to accept it ever since,” now suffice to say I won’t mention his name, but his profile describes him as a Mathematics Education Specialist Helping Parents Take Control of their Children's Math Education – now I have to ask myself, one, what business experience someone like this has to make such a ‘global’ statement on management, that is so clearly wrong and insulting to many managers and, second, what parent would want their kids taught by someone who clearly believes ‘all’ management should not and cannot be trusted.

At least one social media site is now being sued for liable, due to members being able to say anything they want about anyone else, without the need for proof and, up to now, having no fear of being made to account for the statements they make, regardless of how fabricated the comments might be.

Apparently it’s all about ‘free speech’ – but surely as a global community we want free speech to focus on ‘the truth’ and ‘real facts’ and not just being able to say whatever we like because, for example, we’re jealous of someone’s achievements. Does that mean we’ll always agree, no, but at least we’ll have the facts to debate and be able to draw our own conclusions?

Isn’t it about quality rather than quantity – don’t we want to be a part of a business network where we can ‘trust’ the information shared as being accurate, and where we can learn from healthy debate; and social networks where we can ‘share’ with like minded people who want to use the media for good rather than evil. Those individuals looking for some kind of celebrity status should create their own ‘network environment’ – where each week they can argue about whose the best and have some ‘mirror mirror on the wall’ concept to keep them happy and content.

Social media has so much potential to add real value to its groups and members, but only if it is used to promote honest debate and the honest sharing of information. I believe we are fast coming to the time, where unless some proper guidelines are put in place and enforced, there is the potential for social networking to degenerate into a squabble of unintelligent ‘point scoring’ and psychotic rhetoric.

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