The Power of Social Media

Over the past few weeks I have been amazed at the power of social media, I know I shouldn’t I be, considering that events in the past have shown how strong an effect social media is in our world, but I am.

Sites like Twitter explode when something big happens in the news.  The death of Michael Jackson, the devastating Earthquake that hit Japan, and Haiti, the riots across London, to name but a few.

Then there’s Facebook, not as big as Twitter, but still a similar effect across the board.

On the 8th of August, I published a post about the London Riots, followed up by a post called A City in Flames, and then by UK Riots, and I was floored by the number of hits my blog got over those 3 posts.  More than I have ever experienced in my life. Twitter across London exploded with Angry tweets about what was happening in the UK, and once the rioting and looting calmed down, a new hashtag appeared #riotcleanup.  Thousands across the UK picked up their brooms, buckets and marigolds and headed to areas that were destroyed in a bit to help local councils clean up.  It was amazing, a real sense of community spirit.

So far (as of Thursday 11th Aug) over 1,800 people were arrested with over 500 charged with a criminal offence connected to the rioting and looting. It turns out that those rioting were organising the chaos via BBM, another social media tool. British Courts worked through the night to see cases.  Our Police services worked hard to bring things under control and restore peace.  Our Fire service worked their socks off to put fires under control and out, and our Ambulance service and Hospital personnel worked hard to treat those affected.

I have a close friend who is a police officer, he has worked 20 hours days since the 8th of August, his partner hasn’t seen him as he’s been at work.  Him and thousands of others have worked so hard and for their actions I am grateful.  Dare I say it, it could have been so much worse.

Yesterday I used social media to try and help find my 17-year-old cousin, who at the time we believed was missing.  I tweeted his description, last seen whereabouts and a picture and asked my 660 followers to please RT my message.  Almost everyone did.  My 1 tweet was RT’d to thousands of people across the world. The post I wrote was RT’d to thousands of people across the world, and eventually we found him. Thankfully he was safe, unfortunately he was in a pickle.  Turns out social media had brought him into contact with someone unsavoury, who took advantage of his good nature and naivety.

Social Media is a good thing, but it can also cause chaos and wreak havoc.  It can be used to spread important information and news, but it can also be used by unsavoury people for cyber-bullying (post to come soon) and to wreak havoc and spread vicious rumours.  It’s about the way you use it and who uses it.

Social Media is a powerful tool, and I urge others to be wary.  Don’t RT things unless you are sure they are correct. Don’t make a habit of being vicious to others via Twitter or Facebook or on Blog comments. Be careful who you engage with, and remember if someone wants you to do something that makes you uncomfortable or something you think may be wrong,don’t feel pressured, just say no.  Remember social media gives us the tools to block people, use that tool. Don’t be afraid to say No. Use your common sense people.




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