Obama: Social media makes us see how messy the world is

by Rachel Baker on August 31, 2014

There is an interesting rebuttal over at CNET regarding President Obama’s ascertion that social media makes us see how messy the world is.

Odds are that if you weren’t going to follow national and international politics before the social media outlets, you probably aren’t following it now. Of course, the caveat to that statement just may be the inclusion of “If you are of a certain age…”

One must seriously consider the young adults who haven’t known a world prior to social media or digital news. When you consider how much time is spent online reading news, social media, and other outlets of journalism by kids in their late teens and young adults, what the President said may be a close to accurate statement.

At which point, one must consider the perspectives this age group has of the world and further consider that because they’ve been exposed to ‘news as its happening’ their whole lives, they may have newer ideas for solving some of the tough challenges in the world. Of course, no one is saying this age group should solely take the place of trained and educated analysts, just that their viewpoints are important to consider.

Obama: Social media makes us see how messy the world is

A swift drift down your average Twitter feed might show members of the media, and the more politically inclined, offering their own worry and outrage over the suffering being experienced by people on the other side of the world.

Does it also show ordinary people expressing their horror and the need for action? I’m not so sure. There seems still a greater interest in the personal lives of reality TV stars than in the everyday lives of those in, say, Donetsk or Mosul.

If anything, the proliferation of social media may have acted as a peculiar Xanax. Whatever mood we are in, we’ve learned how to seek out an area of the Web that will make us feel a little better — or, if we’re twistedly inclined, a little worse.

On Twitter, Facebook and the rest, most of the world’s joys, annoyances and worries lurk somewhere. All the world’s secrets, despairs, surprises and suggestions have their own little area, waiting to be discovered and participated in.

Does the mere existence of social media make us feel more concerned about people’s hardships? On isolated occasions, perhaps. In general, I’m not so sure.

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