“Social media and social conscience” by Molly Pugh age 15

Social media allows us to connect in ways we never had before. We have the potential to make links with people you would never normally encounter – of different social standing, race and even living on the other side of the world. However, there is a danger that social media can shut people off from the wider world, instead of helping them embrace it. By using websites like Facebook and Twitter, people surround themselves with their friends, their family and their social circles. Even on Twitter people follow people they have common interests with such as a celebrities. This can lead to young people in the West being surrounded by their predominantly privileged culture.

Young people, without rare proactive interest, don’t see the huge breaches of human rights and the grotesque amounts of suffering going on around the world today. This combined with what I feel is the growing perception that being an activist of any kind has become unfashionable in the west’s middle classes, certainly In Britain, has created a distressing reality that world suffering is becoming increasingly ignored. Whilst it should not go unmentioned that there are of course socially aware young people in our society, I feel strongly that there are not enough. In my school, which has a strong sense of social responsibility, the Prom Committee in year 10 was the most popular committee by far, whilst Amnesty was the least. This is illustrative of a challenge which faces our society. If young people aren’t taught to be socially and globally conscious then surely, in the enclosed world of social media, they are ill prepared for when they reach adulthood. This is further proven by the astounding fact that in 2005 more 18-34 year olds voted in the Big Brother Contest than in the general election.

Social media whilst having huge possibilities, with 552 million daily users on Facebook alone, often lets itself down by surrounding people with their cultures and comfort zones, and not forcing them to see the massive and more important issues that the world is facing. The main issue is how can we use social media to enhance people’s social conscience, instead of hindering it?

Fact about the Big Brother Voting from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4586995.stm.
Fact about the Facebook usage from http://visual.ly/100-social-networking-statistics-facts-2012

2 thoughts on ““Social media and social conscience” by Molly Pugh age 15

  1. Abi S

    I have experienced quite the opposite actually. It seems to me that young people today are becoming more proactive in fighting against inequality and suffering in the world, and this is, I believe, largely because of an increasing awareness of these issues via social media. For all its problems, the Kony 2012 campaign showed that if you let young people know about a cause they will rally against it in a powerful way. Protests more recently in support of Bangladeshi women’s rights were organised largely via social media and seemed to gather a lot of support from teenagers and young adults. I would also argue that to say that social media leads to “young people in the West being surrounded by their predominantly privileged culture” is ignoring the fact that even in our Western world, privileged as it is, there are still social justice issues worth fighting for. Just last month a debate over abortion laws in Texas culminated in a controversial vote being cast after it was technically allowed, despite senator Wendy Davis and her colleagues fighting hard against it. Thanks to social media, I heard about Davis’ attempt at a filibuster and was able to watch the livestream of it online. This is just one of many examples of how social media has enlightened me to issues that mainstream press doesn’t seem as concerned with. And, yes, it was an event that took place in our “privileged” West, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth our support. Without social media, and young people’s interaction with it, Davis would not have had the material from the public to present a filibuster that lasted almost 11 hours. I think that’s something young people should be proud of. Social media allows us not only to reach outside of our own little personal bubbles to discover what is going on worldwide, but it gives us access to people’s first hand experiences across the globe, encouraging us to connect with people from different backgrounds, and maybe even different interests, and unite for the good of humankind as a whole.

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