Thoughts on the relevance of Social Media

“… Because of the nature of digital communication, the nuances of interactions can be lost. What was once a relatively meaningless comment to a friend over coffee, somewhat misconstrued and then clarified in a matter of moments, can now be an enduring statement, seen and misinterpreted by many.”

Rachel Grieve, University of Tasmania

(Michael Bond: Friends in high-tech places. NewScientist. 24 May 2014)

I thought the Rachel Grieve quote above was interesting, as in many ways it reflects the opportunity that Social Media offers, but at the same time the risks that it poses. We gain a powerful tool with which to exchange ideas, thoughts and concepts, but a the same time there is a risk that through frequent re-posting an idea gains apparent credibility that actually lacks the necessary depth of understanding to ensure its safety. This is especially relevant when discussing Personal Protective Equipment.

What is the solution? I believe there is not easy answer to that question. I would suggest that we take the qualities that Social Media offers, the crowd-sourcing potential and creativity, but at the same not forget to also take the second step, which is to ensure we have the relevant data to back up and thoroughly understand the proposed tools and techniques being proposed.

The upshot is, that with freedom comes responsibility.

In a sense, Social Media offers new possibilities in regards to exchange of ideas and communication, but at the same time it imposes demands of each of us to question and reflect statements we make when writing a post on Facebook, uploading a video to YouTube, sharing a photo on Instagram – or writing a post on a blog . If this is not the case, there is a risk that otherwise the medium becomes hollow and meaningless, a bit like high fructose corn syrup in processed foods: Superficially it may taste good, but the nutritional value is low – and ultimately it’s not terribly good for you. But that’s another story.

If we can ensure high-quality content then the industry as a whole stands to benefit from the opportunities that these new media offer. For that to be the case every one of us has a responsibility in working towards that goal.