Social media will be society's downfall because it has the power to create a mob. Picture an old movie in which an entire town is chasing after the outcast with pitchforks, ropes and torches, ready to barbecue the monster. Social media has that power on a mega scale.
The power to kill
Think of president-elect Donald Trump’s ability to drive the stock market up or down with 140 characters via Twitter. LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote “Trump’s tweets directed at specific companies are a looming disaster — for investors, citizens, his incoming administration and his own credibility.”
Think of Monica Lewinsky’s decade-long plunge into depression after her unforgivable sin of falling in love with the president of the United States became fodder from public ridicule.
Think of the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the young man whose intimate relationship was secretly video recorded and blasted on social media.
There is an old Public Broadcasting Service slogan, “This tool can teach.” Well, this tool can kill.
Anything can become a weapon and nations are finding ways to use it to destroy their enemies. We need look no further than the recent election for the president of the United States. The FBI and CIA concur that the Russian government hacked the emails of the Democratic and Republican parties but only chose to strategically release those stolen from the Democratic party via Wikileaks.
Under Vladimir Putin, these leaks were propped up by the creation of fake news, which was shared and believed by millions of people who may have been swayed by its content. In this way, they attempted to control our democratic process and install the leader they wanted sitting in the White House (or the Trump Tower as it now appears).
And so yes, this tool can kill. It can kill businesses. It can kill individuals. And it can kill entire nations. This tool is only as smart as the people who use it. As Dan Siegel said, the brain created social media and social media shapes the brain.
(Hiltzik, Michael. “Donald Trump's market-moving tweets are a huge scandal waiting to happen.” 26 December 2016. www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-trump-tweets-20161213-story.html)
(Harman, Wade. “The Brain Changing Power of Social Media.” www. maximizesocialbusiness.com/brain-changing-power-social-media-17178/#. Accessed 26 December 2016.)