Social media exists to connect us to each other and the world around us. If you take a look at anyone’s Twitter, Instagram or Facebook profile, you can easily identify what their interests are. In our hyperconnected society, we have crafted our social media to be extensions of ourselves. But how often do our posts, likes and retweets get put into action?
Every communications student has learned about the narcotizing dysfunction of mass media coined by Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton at one point or another. Essentially, the media can cover a particular topic or issue so extensively that you confuse your own knowledge on the subject for action. This then fosters a vicious cycle in which media consumers do not work to remedy the situations we hear so much about, causing new complications to arise. Take Hurricane Maria for example; many of us are aware of the state of devastation the natural disaster put Puerto Rico in, but I would be willing to bet that most of us, including myself, have made little effort to donate money or contribute to relief efforts.
Social media can certainly be a double-edged sword, as we utilize it to keep abreast of the news but fail to go beyond informing ourselves. It is crucial that we are engaged with what is happening around us and can form our own opinions about the stories we see reflected in the media. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are contributing to a cause when we speak out about it on social media or retweet a post made by a favorite organization or public figure. Doing this helps stimulate vital conversations, but I would encourage all of you to truly involve yourselves in what you hold close to your hearts.
As aspiring PR professionals, we are studying to become advocates for whatever distinct avenues we choose to pursue. By moving away from the narcotizing dysfunction, we are preparing ourselves for our future careers by championing what we feel passionate about. I challenge everyone to pinpoint something they frequently communicate about on social media and have a clear comprehension of. Perhaps you are enthusiastic about environmental protection, politics or humanitarianism. Browsing the internet for just a few minutes can link you to people who are actively giving back. The possibilities are endless; you can become a volunteer, raise funds or become a voice for other students on campus. Your help is always needed in some capacity.
Keep speaking out on social media, but never become apathetic. You wield significant power with the amount of information at your fingertips. Civically engage yourself and go beyond what is on your screen. It is impossible to crusade for every issue that the media presents to us, but putting your knowledge to action will reveal more about yourself and your ability to change the world more than you could have ever imagined.
This blog post was written by Account Associate Christina Borst.