It’s pretty obvious that we are living in strange and exciting times. The world is getting smaller by the minute, age-old traditions are being overhauled, and what we previously thought were stable realities are now constantly shifting and changing in ways that make them unrecognizable from one technological upheaval to the next.
Yet through all these, one thing has remained constant, that is the central role a globalizing media in sharing ideas, influencing opinions, changing perceptions, and generally being the primary means for expressing the varied and often disparate voices that are now clamoring to be heard. Aided by advances in technology, particularly the spread of digital social networks, media has been instrumental in changing our lives in ways that would not have been possible only a decade ago.
Today’s socially-driven media has allowed people all over the world to achieve great things. From starting revolutions and toppling dictators, to exposing greed and abuse at the highest levels of government and the corporate world, we have used this new found communal power to change our world for the better.
But while some of us were busy pushing one end of the spectrum towards utopia, others were working overtime in exploring how this new medium can be exploited, corrupted, and manipulated towards less nobler ends. Such is the birth of cyber-bullying and the mob mentality that destroyed the life of people like Justine Sacco, data hacks and the phenomenon that was the Fappening, idiotic posts and comments that have become staple fodder for late night monologues, and truly it is for not lack of trying that we have yet to plumb the bottom of this cesspool.
Aside from the ability to share ideas faster than the speed of thought, another effect this new media has had on people is the increased desire to question everything. We no longer act like ostriches, looking up into the heavens, gaping mouths slowly filling up with rainwater until we drown in our own passive stupidity. We have become the opposite. We now question everything and everyone. This includes ourselves and our own place in this rapidly changing world.
In all this, media, in its all encompassing form that includes both traditional and social, have been the primary pipeline for discourse and social transformation. It has therefore become the frontline in the multi-sided war between contending perspectives, interests, and value systems. Where the ultimate goal of those who participate is to establish a hegemony of ideas that paints the world with their colors.
And it is within the context of this new media reality that PR practitioners, social media marketers, and other sources of media content now have to start developing new strategies to reach and influence the public. Only with the added complexity of their audiences being able to reach them at any time as well. Gone are the days when communication programs can be crafted in a vacuum, away from the noisome crowd, perfected until ready for the perfectly timed roll-out. Today, the audience has become as much the author as anyone else is.
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