It is hard to know sometimes how our life has changed until we stop for a moment and look at how different it is from ten or even five years ago. In recent years mobile, internet and photography, likely more than anything else, has significantly impacted most of our daily lives. Envisioning the global conversation that has developed over the past few years because of tools like Facebook and Twitter might have been unimaginable for most people at the beginning of this decade.
But social media communication tools have profoundly changed our lives and how we interact with one another and the world around us. Here are the top areas that social media and it’s tools have contributed in majorly changing our society, culture, politics and journalism:
Friends on social media are increasingly becoming people’s trusted sources of information, even more than search engines. Tech blogger Mark Cuban recently noted, "For the 1st time ever, more people are finding my blog from Twitter and Facebook referrals than via Google.”
Of course, many people still use RSS feeds to stay up-to-date on blogs and publications of interest, but our list of sources for what is worthy of our attention has expanded significantly. Furthermore, by getting our news from social media, we know who is recommending it, and can easily communicate with that person about it. News is more social than ever.
2. STARTING A BUSINESS
It is easier than ever to start and launch a business today, in great part thanks to social media. We can not only locate potential collaborators and employees through interest-focused Facebook groups, Twitter searches, and niche social networks, but perhaps more importantly, social media gives people who have time, but little money for advertising, the chance to engage with others and promote their business. A recent article in the New York Times concluded, "For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing."
While business in the past was generally conducted with those in one’s immediate environment, social media, including everything from blogging to tweeting to posting videos on YouTube, has opened new possibilities for both customers and clients. Who we do business with and how we promote that business has moved increasingly online, and for small business especially, social media has proved valuable.
3. STAYING CONNECTED
People certainly still meet others at social venues like clubs and parties, but it is easier than ever to discover people who share our interests through social media, whether that means via groups on Facebook or following people on Twitter or sharing pictures through Whatsapp or Snapchat . The internet has made this all possible and mobile phones have just made it much easier to access it. Even if your interests lie in an obscure area, like 15th century poetry in France or Nepalese art, there is probably a Facebook group about it, and a Twitter search will likely turn up other people talking about the same subject.
Of course, there is only so much communication that can happen through a social network, but via Tweetups and other in-person events, people are expanding these online interactions to face-to-face meetings. The introductions are initially made through social networks, then people develop the relationship using phone calls and in-person meetings.
Studies reveal that our time on social networks has nearly tripled in the last year, and while Facebook has always primarily centered around connecting with people and staying in touch with friends, according to a study on eMarketer, “41.6% percent of Internet users who used Twitter did so to keep in touch with their friends.”
In other words, social media is increasingly being used to find and maintain both old and potentially new friendships.
The old paradigm in communication was that people generally revealed very little of their fears and doubts. They tried to present the image of themselves to other people as completely confident and knowledgeable. The goal was to make sure that you appeared like you were always in complete control. But this is shifting, in part, because of social media. The paradigm is now no longer to try to appear perfect, but to be more transparent with your thoughts and feelings, to reveal your humanness.
We now have queens acknowledging that they get nervous at times when speaking, CEOs being more honest and at times using blogs to express reservations over past decisions, and people openly sharing personal views on social issues. Of course, what we decide to reveal and when to reveal it can be delicate, and there will always likely be items we wish to keep private. However, rather than working to hide our thoughts and feelings, social media is helping to create greater personal transparency.
Weather we decide to keep our private life private or not is up to us. However the internet, photo sharing and social media altogether have made an influence on that decision and has a huge impact on the way the society is moving forward.
In every era, cultures go through numerous changes, and in recent years ours has been more impacted than anything else by social media. Large media companies are not likely to go away overnight, nor will the need to communicate by phone or meet people in person, but social media is providing yet one more means of engaging with people on this vast planet of ours, and if used effectively can give all of us greater choice in how we live and what happens in our world.
b) Give a critical overview on how are women represented in media
We all know the stereotypes—the femme fatale, the supermom, the sex kitten, the nasty corporate climber. Whatever the role, television, film and popular magazines are full of images of women and girls who are typically white, desperately thin, and made up to the hilt—even after slaying a gang of vampires or dressing down a Greek phalanx.
Representations of women across all media tend to highlight the following:
beauty (within narrow conventions)
size/physique (again, within narrow conventions)
sexuality (as expressed by the above)
emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings
relationships (as opposed to independence/freedom)
Many would agree that some strides have been made in how the media portray women in film, television and magazines, and that the last few decades have also seen a growth in the presence and influence of women in media behind the scenes. Nevertheless, female stereotypes continue to thrive in the media we consume every day.
Women are often represented as being part of a context (family, friends, colleagues) and working/thinking as part of a team. In drama, they tend to take the role of helper or object, passive rather than active. Often their passivity extends to victimhood. Men are still represented as TV drama characters up to 3 times more frequently than women, and tend to be the predominant focus of news stories.
The representations of women that do make it onto page and screen do tend to be stereotypical, in terms of conforming to societal expectations, and characters who do not fit into the mould tend to be seen as dangerous and deviant. And they get their comeuppance, particularly in the movies.
Discussions of women's representation in the media tend to revolve around the focus on physical beauty to the near-exclusion of other values, the lack of powerful female role models, and the extremely artificial nature of such portrayals, which bear little or no relation to the reality experience by women across the planet.
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