Essay:

‘Social media / New media leads to the dissemination of many views.” Is this a desirable trend?

Interpretation of keywords

New media:

New media – The Internet (and all associated elements)

Social media:

new media platforms that are related to social networking/multi-dimensional exchanges (facebook, twitter, Instagram, youtube, wechat ….)

The media: includes traditional media(television, the press…) + new media

Dissemination of many views:

wider exchanges /circulation of diverse opinions

Critical keyword:

Views:

is NOT the same as facts/updates/news !!!

Arguments + examples for why it is desirable for social media to have many views

1st argument:

It is a desirable trend as social media leads to an increase in our freedom of expression, empowering us to champion/fight for social causes/social activism. Allowing us as a society to become more inclusive and harmonious.

Examples:

 

Social media campaigns:

Online campaigns on Facebook and Instagram that promote the advocacy of racial equality and the equal rights of the LGBT community. People are allowed to express their diverse opinions online about causes that they are passionate about.

#It Gets Better:

A Facebook campaign that advocates against bullying and cyber-bullying of the LGBT community – it was endorsed and supported by President Obama.

#BlackLivesMatter:

An online campaign that speaks up for the issue of racism between the blacks and the whites in America, following incidents about the use of police brutality by the white police officers on black criminals.

Link:

These social media campaigns have undeniably raised awareness of societal issues, inevitably leading to more public discussion of these poignant problems which are deeply rooted in our society. Only when the masses are aware of these issues, then can we push for change towards a more utopian and progressive society.

2nd argument:

Social media engenders the diversity of views which are crucial in helping netizens to have a multi-faceted understanding of contentious issues in society. Such diversity of views provides checks and balances towards the censorship of the government. It also allows citizens to develop a more holistic understanding of their current political system, allowing them to think more freely, developing their own independent thought, rather than the exclusive propagandised viewpoints of their country.

Examples:

Tiananmen Square protest of 1989:

Though it is censored within China, netizens overseas are able to access dissenting viewpoints about the political protest using foreign servers on the Internet.

    

Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in recent years:

Student protesters in Hong Kong organised street protests to demand their rights to vote for their political leaders.

Amos Yee saga:

Abuse of freedom of expression – Social media enabled Singaporeans to express their dissenting views on Amos Yee’s actions.

However, some netizens consider him to be a heroic figure in speaking out against the late Lee Kuan Yew.

Link:

From this example, we can observe how the prevalence of social media has allowed opposing views to coexist. This as previously mentioned, gives netizens the opportunity to consider multiple viewpoints and formulate their own opinion, based on the contrasting views. Therefore it is a desirable trend, as it netizens can develop more holistic perspectives towards controversial issues.

Arguments + examples for why it is not desirable for social media to have many views

1st Argument:

One has to examine the reality that freedom of expression is often abused these days, leading to hate speech and hate crime.

Examples:

Amy Cheong:

An executive from NTUC expressed her racist insult on her Facebook, mocking the Malay wedding at the void deck.

Amos Yee:  

Baseless views and vitriolic criticism – he also insulted the Christians (note: granted asylum in the U.S – considered asylum seeker in the U.S)

“The Innocence of Muslims” in 2012:

Uploaded to Youtube by an American filmmaker – it was a short film that expressed anti-Muslim sentiments, as it portrayed Prophet Muhammad in a derogatory manner.

Link:

These examples clearly illustrate how the dissemination of many views leads to conflict and internal tension within a nation. Because these individuals were able to share their views online, they inevitably offended others, sowing ethnic and religious tension. For this reason, the dissemination of multiple views is neither ideal nor desirable.

2nd Argument:

The sensationalist culture that we are in supports the most shocking and scandalous of stories. This catalyses the demand for sensationalist news, which sacrifices truth for excitement, spawning fake news. The increasingly rampant circulation of “fake news” is worsening the social media landscape in recent months, as inaccurate or downright false opinions are woven into such fake news in order to mislead the public into believing in a particular narrative.

 

Example:

 

Fake news:

Donald Trump and the pope

Bogus and fabricated opinions were created to support and criticise Donald Trump for the sake of doing so, with no credible validity.

A Facebook post featuring the endorsement of D. Trump by the Catholic Pope.

Sensationalism:

The reputable news network CNN has also fallen into the crutches of half-truthful news reporting in order to achieve better ratings and viewership. These news networks gravitate towards the most violent and radical aspects of current events. The coverage of the Antifa riots by news networks mainly feature videos of property damage, and leftist Antifa protesters getting into brawls with opposing neo-nazi protesters. This tarred the reputation of the Antifa majority, which was peaceful protestors. These news networks had forsaken the truth for ratings.

Link:

This clearly shows that the propagation of many views, allows more organisations to cater to mass-appeal strategies. leading to more misinformation and confusion, distorting the reality that we believe in. Furthermore, in the current media landscape, clickbait titles reign king, as advertisers thrive on the eyeballs that are on the page. Thus the dissemination of multiple views on the media pollutes us with sensationalist trash, thus it is not a desirable trend.