(UN)Social Media

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Produced 2020 | 1 Season | 10 Episodes | Video Podcast Articles


Episode 2: (UN)Social Media

This episode looks at the role social media has had during a time where we are kept physically apart but connecting more than ever online.


Episode 2: (UN)Social Media

Is Social Media a product of who we are or are we a product of Social Media? Has it divided or connected us more? This episode looks at the role Social Media has had during a time where we are kept physically apart but connecting more than ever online.

To navigate this topic, our host June Sarpong talks with Julian Wheatland, Chidera Eggerue and Bruce Daisley.


(UN)Social Media

3 min read

Society today is dominated by social media and during this past year, where we have been kept physically apart, it’s no wonder we have been connecting online more than ever. But, is this necessarily a good thing? What exactly is the role of social media during this time of crisis? And most importantly, where will that leave us?

To get the conversation started, Project Reset welcomes author Bruce Daisley; former COO & CFO of Cambridge Analytica Julian Wheatland; and fashion blogger Chidera Eggerue as they join presenter June Sarpong in discussing the responsibilities of platforms and how we can regulate something that sometimes seems unregulatable and highly divisive.

Something to keep in mind is that social media didn’t start this way. Initially, these platforms were created to socialize and share images, and not as a tool to feed a society where we’re all divided by our own opinions and fear. This means that policing content is not something we set out to do, but it’s evident that some protective measures need to be put in place.

In this sense, Eggerue mentions that we shouldn’t just look at social media, but at mainstream media as well. They both feed off each other and the media has this role of stirring the pot and allowing the outrage to manifest in click and views. Together they are an explosive combination.

However, there is a fine line between protective measures and censorship, and that’s the issue that seems to be polarizing society nowadays. As Wheatland mentions, who are we to appoint Twitter and Facebook as the arbiters of what is and what isn’t news? Perhaps then, the answer is not in applying measures but in regulating social media as a utility, as a basic social service like electricity or water companies and have some input of elective representation who can then act as a watchdog.

But it’s not just about content. It’s about data; the things we share with the platform and the things the platform knows about us. This is what makes the algorithm so effective. The more it knows about us, the more it can feed us things that align with our views, leaving us completely isolated from the other side of the conversation.

An interesting idea, as presented by Wheatland, is that perhaps there could be an obligation for social media to present us with a healthy amount of contrary views to expand our minds and increase discourse. However, Twitter already tried its hand at that, and it proved to be the most unpopular solution.

As of now, it’s all trial and error. But the future of social media is not so bleak. While these platforms can be divisive, they can also be wholesome. In fact, wholesome content has been one of the major trends of this pandemic as people lean towards appreciating the simpler things and appreciating each other. Clueing up to step up.

One of the beautiful things about social media is that now, the news agenda is set by all of us, and we’ve been able to shine the spotlight on people and hand them the microphone. Social issues like the Deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are being kept in the news, not because of any broadcast, but because people are bringing it back up every day. Perhaps, had it been played on traditional media alone, we would have never seen this massive movement.

Examples like this certainly give us reason to be optimistic, and perhaps, as these experts agree, these screens can end up being a force for good rather than for ill.

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