|Social media is taking over news reporting. Image: Lab42|
Ever since the turn of the millennium, social media started picking up pace. With various social networks for various situations, more and more adaptation by famous institutes and governing bodies, and of course the rise of smartphones and tablets in consumer markets, social media became huge. Seeing cat videos, pictures of food and cheesy inspirational quotes does get boring, like really boring. But the strength of social media is seen the most in moments of misfortune. I pretty much never read a newspaper anymore. Nor do I watch the news. If you know me, you'll know how much of a technophile I am. Pretty much everything I do, I do online. That includes getting updates on current events, local or global. Whenever there's a missing child in Malaysia, or natural disaster strikes somewhere in the country, or a robbery or murder has been committed (like this which happened in a neighbouring housing area to mine), social media is my go-to source for information, and I believe the same holds true for many others as well.
Kuantan has been hit by massive floods after days of relentless rain. As you can expect, I got most of my info from social media, not traditional media like the newspapers or news stations on TV. Not to mention my friends who have been keeping each other up-to-date via WhatsApp. Traditional media has been rendered almost completely irrelevant by the rise of social media. Instead of waiting for tomorrow's newspaper, or waiting in front of the TV for a news broadcast, all I need to do is open up Facebook, and all the information I want is right there. Twitter is probably just as up-to-date as Facebook (if not more), but I don't use the service so I'm just assuming.
There's more value to social media as updates come directly from people at ground zero. Pictures from smartphones of victims and witnesses are uploaded and spread across social media in a matter of minutes. No information is censored by politically-minded bureaucrats who control TV and newspapers and there are no time constraints on social media, so everything is out there no matter the time of day. In fact, social media is so much better than traditional media when it comes to disseminating information, that even news outlets are using social media to get information out faster. Watch this video on how many establishments including news outlets are using Google+ Hangouts on Air as a medium for interacting with viewers, and listen to what is said at the 0:42 mark by someone who I assume is a reporter, "We are following some breaking news, since we can't be on the air, we are live on Google+, if you have information you can join this Hangout". Social media one, traditional media zero.
|Al-Jazeera utilising social media to the fullest|
Many people say that social media is making us "less social" in the company of friends and family. That might be true, sometimes. But the benefits of social media far outweigh the "problems" it causes. Just take a look at this community-run page on Facebook that has been tirelessly posting updates, keeping people informed of the conditions in Kuantan. This is the kind of coverage you can only get via social media. This is the true strength of social media. Dissemination of knowledge in real-time, by hundreds of people, to hundreds of thousands of others. Don't look at someone who is staring at their phone as someone who is anti-social. In times of darkness, social media is what keeps the world connected.