15 years ago at school, we debated. There was a negative, an affirmative and the adjudicator. Outside of this school pride and polite rebuttal, opinions were shared with our closest confidences, photos came in the form of processed negatives and there was no way of stalking an ex outside of, well, stalking.
Now, with a barrage of social media avenues at ready disposal, opinions can be shared across international divide, romances rekindled and everyone from your boyfriend’s grandmother to your boss from three years ago can be privy to your political preferences.
Updating our status has become as important a task as finishing that work report. And we know that, because people say as much.
What social media is responsible for, aside from allowing copious levels of procrastination, is giving people a voice. In an age where politics is suddenly interesting (despite the slim pickings offered for PM) people can offer their opinions on an unprecedented scale. While not always factually correct or necessarily soundly based, there is an opportunity to learn from our Facebook friends and Twitter followers, whether rant, vent soapbox moment or otherwise. At the very least we uncover the election impact and the issues of most relevance on a very grass-roots level.
The lesson is far from limited to politics. Sport, fashion, current events all feature heavily in updates and Tweets, all informative and more interestingly, reflect the passion of not just every day people, but those who matter to use the most; our peers.
Social media channels give rise to social commentators, citizen journalists and ‘industry’ experts, from a diverse range of disciplines and while the gold sometimes needs to be sorted from the standard, monotonous and even self-serving updates, it is well worth taking note.
It’s no coincidence that the story of Rudd being de-throned broke on Twitter. Without social media, would the masses be as vocal, armed or informed, open to a variety of viewpoints and as engaged in current events?