Social Media! Not an alien term to anybody in the 21st century perhaps. Because in this age of innovation and fast speed development, social media has become more of a morning newspaper with tea, a butter to the dry bready lives of people, a colour to the blank canvas of every day-like-the-one-before days. According to our beloved Wikipedia, Social media are computer mediated technologies that facilitate the creation of highly interactive platforms through which individuals, communities, and organisations can share, co-create, discuss and modify user-generated content. In the words of Malay Shah,“ social media sites create an illusion of connectivity”.
Social media is where we have found a solace amidst such troubled times and a stage to voice our individual unrigged opinions, which is certainly more participation than what a turn of a century has ever seen.
This illusion, however, like many others, such as Santa Claus and magic, has given so many a sense of belonging, a sense of home, a sense of security and a huge sense of courage and empowerment. Included in this ‘so many’ are large factions of the repressed communities of the world. Communities whose voice weren’t heard before. Communities who constitute half of this world, but whose worth is half of their counterparts. Yes, this community couldn’t be any other than what consists of mothers, sisters, daughters, female friends, aunts, nieces, etc. It is my community, the community of WOMEN. In the words of Marjane Satrapi, the author of ‘Persepolis‘, “Women are actually using half of their capacity or less; half of their talents or less; half of their brains or less; half of their work or less. So this society works at half speed or less.” But as we have come to test the limits of social media, it has come to be known as more about sociology and psychology than technology.
Voices that nobody knew would ever sound without a microphone, the voices that had been taken for granted over centuries, are finally on the path to their rightful destination.
It has helped women sound their voices without speaking, it has helped them battle against taboos and superstitions by launching a rebellion online. Thus, voices that nobody knew would ever sound without a microphone, the voices that had been taken for granted over centuries, are finally on the path to their rightful destination. Today, influential women from around the world, such as Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, ex-first lady Michelle Obama, other inspiring female activists such as Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey and the wonderfully inspiring feminist authors such as Eve Ensler, Caitlin Moran, Clarissa Pinkolá Estes, Carrie Brownstein are just a tweet away.
It never fails to fascinate me that a 140 character text could be so inspiring and revolutionising for millions of people around the world.
Besides, twitter, there are so many other fertile social media grounds where full-fledged rebellions or as a newly coined term ‘online activism’ is taking place. As the statistic is correctly phrased by Erik Qualman- “as social media is less about technology and more about relationship building, we are starting to see more women have a heavy influence if not a dominant role in the social media space. It’s no wonder that Facebook is in part being run by the chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.” In lieu of social media, the upheaval of ‘sounding voices’ is also taking a grip on the, until now not-so-popular, book clubs.
The most popular one, in my opinion, Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads. Our Shared Shelf is a feminist book club initiated by the former inspiring UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson. The book club has attracted more than a 200,000 people from different parts of the world, over a period of only 18 months. This book club, of which I am a proud part, has, through the myriad range of colourful feminist literature never failed to inspire its members. It has aroused in women a fire to stand up for their rights and surprisingly in men, a mutual understanding that ‘equality is desirable not only for a feminist future, but for a human future’. Our Shared Shelf’s discussions have been inclusive of both genders equally and have brought about a sense and desire in its members to uphold and support the ideals of a gender equal world. It has given women, myself a 17-year-old included, a right to be heard and the ability to hear.
“Social media has given the people of the world a gift of great power, but with great power comes great responsibility. It could do us great good or great evil” -Emma Watson
Moreover, it has shaped our opinions and given us more than just a new collective voice, it has given us a new collective vision – a vision for a better future. Social media is where we have found a solace amidst such troubled times and a stage to voice our individual unrigged opinions, which is certainly more participation than what a turn of a century has ever seen. I would like to conclude by quoting an inspiring young lady, none other than Emma Watson herself. She says, “Social media has given the people of the world a gift of great power, but with great power comes great responsibility. It could do us great good or great evil”.
Thus, leaving up to us an advice to use our gifts wisely or in the words of Dave Willis -‘Don’t use social media to impress people, use it to impact people.’
Views are the author’s own