[33/365] Social Media Woes

BigHit’s Facebook page accidentally released the concept photos for BTS’s You Never Walk Alone three minutes too early. Usually they release it at 11pm on the dot, meaning midnight KST, but this time they accidentally released it at 10.57pm.

Have a Jung Hoseok blessing your day, what an absolute beauty

The previous three minutes was really fun to watch – mere seconds after the concept photos were posted on Facebook, fansites on Twitter were already spreading them around. Seconds. Social media is scary in how lightning fast it is when it comes to spreading information, but I guess that’s one of its perks.

Social media is one of the things the new generation can’t live without, and I’m not saying this in the hurr durr technology is bad and Thomas Edison was a witch way. I’m saying this because social media, for many, have become the number one source of information, truthful or otherwise. Most major news outlets – BBC News, Guardian, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many others – have twitter accounts where they tweet out links to the latest articles. Fringe news sites like Breitbart power the alt-right forces on the web. Journalists and pundits give their unbiased opinions on their own personal twitter accounts, giving them the freedom to differentiate themselves from their employers. With the entirety of the United States seemingly disintegrating into chaos, some from within the White House have taken it upon themselves to leak news from within the White House itself as a resistance in the name of democracy.

Put simply, social media is a powerful thing.

Earlier in the semester, there was a presentation my Oral Communications course had to do. We had to split into groups and come up with an idea – a skit, a drama, a play, a roundtable talk, whatever – to present in class, to test our speaking skills. One of the groups in my class did a talk show-esque presentation, where they pretended to be entrepreneurs and talk about how they were successful in their businesses and stuff. Their main topic was social media and how that helped their entrepreneurial endeavours. One of them was a food blogger who was going to write a book on her travels, another a YouTube make up artist who started his own makeup line, and so on and so forth. At the end of the presentation the audience were encouraged to ask questions so as to give both the audience and presenters more chances to speak. More talk, more points.

Now, I’m not one to purposely stick my foot out and trip up people just for kicks. Far from that, really, but when you’re saying you save money by not having your products sold in stores like Sephora and instead ship them out yourself, you’re basically asking for trouble. Shipping out your products yourself, as a budding entrepreneur, would add more cost onto your product (and subsequently your customers) as compared to having Sephora sell them. What’s going to add to the cost more: Sephora taking a cut from sales, or you dumping on warehouse rent and courier costs and manufacturing costs on top of trying to make a profit with your product? As a rookie makeup line owner, the latter is the answer. That’s why a lot of indie brands are hella expensive before they grow and get big enough to offset the costs. And this guy was talking about how he’s doing international shipping and how he does it all himself and how it’s cheaper for his customers and I just called bullshit on that.

So yeah, one of my pet peeves is when people talk about shit that doesn’t make sense. I didn’t exactly call him out on that, but when they mentioned social media they also touched upon the topic of followers and haters. The food blogger said she usually let her followers take care of nasty people in the comment section, and that really got me thinking, especially when the rest of the panel laughed and agreed with her. At the end of the presentation, during the Q&A session, when the lecturer asked if anyone had any questions I raised my hand and asked:

“Do you think you, as an entrepreneur with a huge following, have a responsibility to curb behaviours such as mob mentality?”

I mentioned the earlier comment from the food blogger and how that sort of behaviour – letting her fans take care of nasty commenters and drive them away from the comment section – is akin to unhealthy mob mentality, and asked if they think they have the responsibility to teach their fans to not act that way and be better netizens over all.

The entire class ooohed the moment I finished speaking, as if I just did the academic equivalent of a mic drop. Maybe I did, in a sense, because the presenters were certainly flustered by my question. The YouTube make up artist, in particular, fumbled and blathered his way through his answer before I held up a hand and got to the point: does he think he has the responsibility to educate his followers, given his immense following as a YouTube star. His answer was no.

I let the issue go, unsatisfied with his answer, but I’d take what I could get. It struck me then that despite the widespread use of social media, people don’t really take it seriously. Social media can have far-ranging consequences, from fake news influencing the US presidential race to a single malicious comment drawing the ire of netizens to the point of cyberbullying. And the fact that so many of the young people who use social media substantially, whose daily lives revolve around social media choose to ignore that…

It’s unsettling, to say the least.

I’d love to know your comments on the topic.

Til next time.


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