Social Media: In the Age of the Internet

Cover of "The Cult of the Amateur: How To...

Cover via Amazon

There can be little doubt that literature is one of the strongest pillars of all societies not just for its cultural value but for its place in defining the histories of civilisation, emphasising the failings and successes of political establishments and becoming, perhaps, one of the strongest forces in highlighting the woes and errors within the world.

Few people are ever successful in seeking to find themselves a published author but the age of the internet has brought about a revolution of its own: the revolution of the amateur journalist. What this revolution entails is the idea that any single person has the power and the capacity to become an objective (or, more commonly, subjective) commentator on the world.

This is typically viewed as “social commentary” and comes as a result of the shift from “establishment” to “social networking“. In the past, one would draw its opinions from a range of sources but most of these would be newspapers or media organisations, with the occasional debate arising between intellectuals. In the modern age or the “age of the internet”, people now have the power not only to actively engage in a discourse between writers but express their own views on a number of issues.

Many people have commented that this results in the media becoming saturated with “old media” conflicting with “new media” and while I would certainly argue that this is true, the result is that the newspapers and media organisations of the past must discover means to engage with a modern audience, whether it is through opinion, commentary or the utilisation of social tools (“social networking”).

The opposing argument, a view promoted by Andrew Keen, is that the “amateur journalist” is no more a social commentator than he is a spectator of his own life. There is no qualification nor prerequisites for a person to create a personal blog or engage in debate through the use of social networking websites and indeed, most people will now lay claim to a blog (whether used or not) or be active on a number of social networking websites.

“Amateur journalism” is not so much a negative result of the age of the internet but a prototype of the future where a greater number of people have the ability to express their own views on a matter of issues. What should happen, however, is that those engaged in the “new media” should begin to develop an accepted formula on the involvement of the public in shifting emphasis from one form of discourse to another.

One of the strongest benefits of the age of the internet is that the previous established positions on opinion are now not only being undercut by the tidal force of “social media” but beginning to set up their own “√©lite”. Where before many would turn towards The Times or The Telegraph for one’s political reflections, those engaged in the “social media” debate will now turn towards news aggregate websites such as the Huffington Post.

Wherever there is an incoming revolution, we witness the establishment attempting to stifle the incoming tide by attempting to change their structure to fit a new model. The “old media” has represented this point brilliantly by the continued focus by media organisations on the profit to be made from the internet. In layman’s term, the “old media” wants to charge people for access to the news online, as opposed to free access to media.

“Social media” is still in its developing stages with many people concerned about the direction of “amateur journalism” and its impact on media and Andrew Keen makes a strong case in The Cult of the Amateur but the debate is ongoing. The internet has now become a battleground for the “old” and “new” forces to fight for victory but the result is likely to be more akin to a truce, as opposed to an outright victory.

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About ICaithness

Such is the nature of life that it is difficult to describe oneself, for the simple fear of complete subjectivity. I, for one, would propose that others look to my friends, companions and acquaintances for an analysis of my personality. Alas, I find that I must write something in order to inform my readers of my personality and my linguistic nature. In order to do that, I shall write as objectively as I can. There is little to be said for the sparse writing that I do on occasion, save that it often has a philosophical undertone and best represents the person that I am. Writing is, as was once seen, a beautiful and therapeutic method of examining the world. The words we create are mere 'mirrors to reflect the creations of Nature'. In essence, our hand creates that which reflects our life best. Philosophical though I may be, there is much more to me than pure complex and abstract thought. I am no more a philosophy than I am a man. It is only the presentation of said self that helps to create an identity, a face which represents life in all its glory.

Posted on March 25, 2011, in Commentaries, Literature, Media, The Arts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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