Around 2011, social media took off. Networks like Facebook and Twitter burst onto the scene with unimaginable democratic force. These two platforms, along with Google and YouTube, have been around for years prior to this time, but their powers to enact political change and transform international relations had yet to be realized. Social commentary usually limited to news outlets and televised programming became available to the mass public to engage with, share personal stories and opinions, and quickly allowed the spread of news to reach new heights.
Newspapers shared breaking stories, politicians updated on personal opinion of a relevant subject matter like a new bill that had passed, and public figures such as entertainers even got in on the fun. These no-barriers platforms extended beyond America; European and Middle Eastern countries found great political and economic use, sharing similarly breaking news stories or showing off the best vacation locales. The important factor that determines the effectiveness of this evolution is time. Before this, information would have to at least take hours to distribute to the intended audiences, and a full day was more likely to pass.
The internet has allowed immediacy to seep into the interplay between countries. Having an opinion posted within seconds could lead to a viral blowup within the hour. News outlets could capitalize on this blowup and spread its effect to an even wider cast audience, further expanding on the initial post's reach. This characteristic of our techno-political landscape is most evident right now. President Donald Trump dominates Twitter and then every large news source. Influencer Cardi B is making impressive headway in this realm, posting sentiments about the recent government and its associated border wall. Foreign powers such as ISIS have been able to spread their radicalism farther and faster than ever before. The news of Brexit reaches America in seconds, and we play a role in keeping up with these and other worldly matters.
What does this mean for traditional media? With this enhancement in accessibility to world issues and grounds for public opinion to really matter, the old-fashioned ways of the physical paper and the nightly news recaps simply can't keep up. This technological transformation bodes well only if these outlets recognize the shift in consumer demand and move towards a digital platform. However, we must also recognize the social dangers this transformation allows. Messages of hate inundate our home pages and feeds. An idea possesses much more power than ever before, and we must be cautious about how we proceed in the future.