Social Issues in a Digital Era

More social than ever, more indifferent than before. True or false? Digital media have conquered our world and everyday life, leaving us exposed to central sociological issues, taboos and unsolved problems of the past two or three decades. This is the fact that we have to handle in this new Era that has risen. Will we seize the opportunity of exposure to give a solution to these issues? Or will we press the skip button and continue our digital life, hanging national flags one day and articles about “annoying refugees” the other?

The truth is that nowadays we experience a moving and progressive miracle. Social media are spreading pieces of a great power to every single user of social platforms, the power of influence. Yet there is a significant obstacle.

According to Elisabeth Noelle – Neumann (1984), a german political scientist, there is a theory called “The Spiral of Silence”, which explains why people are afraid to voice their opinion in public, about social matters. The theory argues that this fear is due to people’s perception that they will be isolated from the social groups that they belong to, if they share an opinion that is opposite to the trending or public opinion.

Some years before, in 2011, a statistic under the title “Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites” indicated that almost 90% of teens using the internet have ignored mean behavior that they have been witnessing in social media platforms. Thus bullying, for example, is one of the major social problems exposed in the digital era, which gives us the chance to break the safety of silence and become active users.

Furthermore, a research conducted by Y. Tsfati et al. (2014) indicated that online exposure might affect the forming of one’s personality, opinion and voicing in social media. As internet users are more than ever familiar with the digital media today, we now have the ability and the medium to voice, influence and form opinions that will give solutions to many sociological issues. Further discussion on social effects is going to take place on the upcoming posts.

Stay in front of your screens!

Bibliography
Glynn, C. J., & Noelle-Neumann, E. (1986). The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion-Our Social Skin. Social Forces, 64(3), 828.

Family Online Safety Institute (2011). FOSI Asks: What is Safe and Healthy Online Use. Retrieved from https://www.fosi.org/aboutpress/fosi-asks-safe-healthy-online-use/.

Studies from University of Texas Update Current Data on Media and Politics (2014). Politics & Government Week. Retrieved from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-356746206.html?refid=easy_hf.

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One thought on “Social Issues in a Digital Era

  1. “The Spiral of Silence” is indeed an obvious reason why users do not speak the truth, don’t stand for what is right, don’t support their views and beliefs. Many people do not wish to express their opinion in fear of not following the general trend, of going against the public opinion, or of being opposed to what their peers support and believe. Once more, Maslow’s need of belongingness is profound, explaining that people need to feel as a part of a wider social environment.

    However, this is obviously not the only reason why digital indifference is occurring. Nowadays, we have been exposed into digital violence that much, that nothing seems to grab our attention, especially if that does not have a direct impact on us. As I also mentioned in a recent blog post, the continuous exposure in violent content has resulted in desensitization, apathy and passive behavior towards human suffering. We consider what is going on around us solely as observers and not as active viewers.

    In addition to that, many people do not even bother to participate on what is going on digitally around them, because they know that their opinion might not be equally important on the Web compared to face-to-face communication. After all, everyone becomes an expert online even if there is not sufficient evidence to support his or her opinion, therefore why consider fighting for what you believe is right?

    Like

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