Social media has become a way of life for many of us. We use Twitter, and Facebook (and other social media sites) in the same way we breathe, without thinking. It has become so natural to us that we take it for granted. Can we even remember a time when there wasn’t Twitter and Facebook, when we didn’t have an online community that we connected with?
However, it isn’t that way for everyone. Take for instance, the Liverpool football player, Ryan Babel’s tweeting. His tweet about a referee brought him a hefty fine. Social media sites are a place where celebrities (and everyone else, for that matter) often feel the freedom to speak their mind and be real (though some craft false identities). However, some care is urged by people, “Social network sites like Twitter must be regarded as being in the public domain,” said chairman Roger Burden. Does the ease with which we tweet, give us the freedom to be real online? Perhaps, but we must realize that our realness is subject to many of the same limits that we face in the rest of the public world.
It is a strange phenomenon that causes people to feel the freedom to express thoughts and opinions online when they would perhaps show more reserve expressing those thoughts offline. Social Media seems to have cut down a lot of the barriers between people and their thoughts . . .
For instance, social media brings celebrities and their fans closer together. People can get celebrities honest reactions, but the celebrities also must realize that their comments are public. Ben Dirs writes that the ” irony of Twitter is that while it affords sportspeople an element of control, allowing them to bypass pesky journalists who might twist their message, it also takes control away.”
It is a strange phenomenon that breaks away the walls of common sense that we all seek to cultivate in our offline communications, and allows a chance for such realness among people online. The problem is not so much that people have the opportunity to be more real online (don’t we all crave realness anyway) as much as it is that people now must wrestle with what to do with that realness. In Ryan Babel’s case, he faced the consequences of his speech (whether deserved or undeserved is another topic altogether), and learned something from them, whether negative or positive. His fans and all of us who read about this also learn something. It makes us think. In consequence, we probably will approach our use of social media in a slightly more thoughtful way.