This was the headline of the Argentine newspaper Clarín of August 20, referring to the statements of a player when a goal was disallowed during a football match.
The great ideas of the Canadian communicator Marshal MacLuhan –that I have already mentioned many times– are now clearer than ever, when he coined the expression “the medium is the message”, improved, from my point of view, when more modern philosophers state that “the message is modified by the medium”.
It becomes very difficult to reflect on something that was not even considered before. I mean, in the past, and since sports appeared, it was very common that in case of disagreement with the referee players or fans would express their anger through “traditional” means of communication. Now, we should analyze doing so through the social networks, which in turn enable the viralization of content and its re-dissemination, together with the readers’ added value, because they are –very powerful– forms of social expression. And since they are so powerful, it is not right to leave outside reflection spaces.
On the other hand, they are new forms of sending personal messages with no “publishing filters”, fact that leaves the “sender” “exposed” but also guarantees that mass media should be very careful when they ”quote” other people. That’s why I think this is great and remains an expression of absolute freedom and democracy. These social networks are positioning themselves as strong mechanisms for controlling the quality of mass media expressions and, although they are not overshadowing the mass media yet, the latter are starting to get worried. It is important not to disregard and to foster the debate that a lot of nuisances are being said and that social media are used as mechanisms of misinformation. For that reason, I think they should be analyzed more seriously than they are today.
I feel that, for the intrinsic novelty of social communication networks, we focus more on “how to use them” or on “not being left aside” than in their analysis to discover these “environmental” variables that should be contextualized within the social and cultural mechanisms of any society.
It is also important to introduce social schemes which help people to understand that when they upload something to the social networks, this “brief and frequently simple and misspelled 140 characters’ text” may have an influence on people we never imagined would read it. This generates an added social responsibility for which not everybody is prepared -or we do not even think of.
This issue should be regarded as transversal and I think should be discussed and included in different university careers and post-graduate courses, such as journalism, social communication, library economy, psychology, sociology, philosophy, public health, business administration, among others, and should be taken to the highest level of analysis. This will give us the opportunity to enjoy and make the best use of the “positive” web and to be less worried about the “negative” one. Therefore, we should work together with young people, who were raised in contact with ICTs or whose mind is more permeable and can easily absorb this question; we should listen to and give them space to express their opinion and take action.