Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Problem With Social Media

 

Prince Harry on hearing his gran had seen the Vegas pics…

 

 

In an age characterised by the preponderance of social media, our generation is perhaps the guinea pig of the social craze that consists of universal disclosure of our every move. To our parents, this public displaying of often sensitive information, is often unnerving, bringing in to play issues such as those of safety, but also fundamental moral principles such as that of civil liberties and right to privacy, which are commonly perceived as being directly undermined by social networking sites.

Facebook and Twitter encourage us to constantly update our latest thoughts, feelings, actions, and locations.  Facebook’s new and compulsory ‘Timeline’ setting literally charts our lives on a webpage, for all to see. Inevitably, peer pressures compel many of us to try in vain to make our lives often appear somehow more interesting. Did Mark Zuckerberg really comprehend just how far self-conscious teens would go, and the extent of the time they would spend (latest figures suggest the average teenager spends upwards of 25 hours a week on the site), trying to somehow enhance their public image?

But what is the point of it all? Why are we spending so much of our teenage years trying to ‘improve’ how we as individuals appear to our peers? Surely it’s unfair how we should feel the constant urge to try and boost our profile, and make ourselves ‘more interesting’?  What characterises a popular persons Facebook profile anyway, and why?

Moral consternation aside, there is a more literal, and just as harmful side to this social media- centric society we grow up in: its ability to graphically portray our every misdemeanour, particularly if you’re rich…  Just ask Prince Harry.

Over the past week, the ‘story’ of this certain Prince’s fecklessness, and more precisely, the (literal) laying bare of his such misdemeanours, have featured prominently in our nations media.  Hapless Harry’s Vegas exploits were of course only made available in the public domain by virtue of the web, where the incriminating pictures were originally circulated.

Yes, it must be admitted, that in this particular case it was not social media sites that explicitly ensured an awkward hangover for our heir to the throne. It was instead one of his own party who took, and then sold the image in order to make a quick buck.

Nonetheless, it was social networking sites such as Twitter, which foster our obsession with celebrity, that facilitated the story in spreading so swiftly across the Atlantic, via all things Prince Harry trending. Similarly, sites such as Twitter and Facebook may also be sited as directly responsible for the equally unpleasant spreading of X Factor judge’s Tulisa’s sex tape hell.

So, with our every overindulgence or past demons threatened to be exposed at the click of a mouse, one may be forgiven for often resenting the power of both the internet and social media. Yes, the average young man’s drunken hotel room antics would not usually make headlines, but the precedent of unwelcome publication of personal embarrassments, often outside of our control, is one that many of us must prepare to face. Social media it would seem, whilst being a tool that can serve to bring us together, can also be used as a callous weapon to shame.

Indeed, they can often threaten to challenge democratic values such as that of a right to personal privacy. Any move however, to limit its dominance and one’s right to free press and freedom of expression, may threaten to be just as damaging to our core democratic values. The choice faced may be simplistically broken down: should we employ some degree of censorship, or if not, surely we risk the laying bare of your every move and mistake?

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Well Done London!

What a show….London, take a bow!

For, cynicism aside – the last two weeks have been pretty amazing. London, and indeed the wider United Kingdom, has reminded the world, and more importantly itself, that it can still host a party like the best of them. No it wasn’t cheap, but then with our nation in the doldrums of economic uncertainty for the past few years, and the media dominated with dreary negative economic updates for  a seeming eternity, perhaps the British public were due a two week ‘blow out’.

The amount of enthusiasm, from first-hand experience, was truly awe-inspiring. The feel good factor was high. And, after a sluggish start, once the medals started flowing freely, (day 5?!), the optimism was infectious. Indeed, with Team GB’s medal records not merely smashed, but pulverised, the rallying support which saw a bedraggled public unite in raucous support for the cause of their fellow countrymen and women, was truly rewarded.

I’ll admit it: I was a sceptic. Tens of billions for what is effectively a two week sporting competition seemed a bit of waste of money, not least with our national debt at new dizzying heights. But then again, placed into the perspective of our taxpayer bailouts of those wretched banking institutions – which adds up to many times more than the cost of the Games – perhaps it wasn’t that much of a waste of public funds. Save a bank or have a spectacular party with the whole world invited? We picked both, and I’m a damn sight glad we did!

Like Usain Bolt in the 100 (and 200) metre sprints, the Olympics stormed to glory in seconds, truly capturing the hearts and sentiments of both a national and global audience. The question now is whether it can secure a legacy for the longer term, so that like Mo Farah, its’ success can last the distance, continuing to capture the sentiments of the people, to be rewarded with the ultimate victory.

My one regret? I never got a ticket… and I was only in London for two days of the sixteen day bonanza. For, despite being a proud Londoner, I must admit that the lure of a family holiday, booked months before my development of Olympic fever, was too much to resist. Surely it’s a sign of a great Games, if even when many hundreds of miles away, your thoughts are dominated by the festivities you left behind?

It wasn’t all bad though – I was fortunate enough to capture my own once in a lifetime experience of the Games when I joined the throngs of people at Hyde Park to take in the spectacle of the (non- ticketed) men’s triathlon. The mood of friendliness and positivity throughout the tens of thousands strong crowd was truly striking – for me capturing the essence of what the Olympics should and can be: a medium through which to unite people from all backgrounds with an optimism and mutual respect, where all other troubles (economic, political, social), can be briefly set to one side.

The sport- the true focal point of the festival- in some ways forms too the focus and excuse for which to  simply forget all other troubles – thereby it becomes the focal point through which all other issues are briefly overlooked.

Well, philosophical musings on hold for a moment…

Thanks you London and thank you Team GB! 

PoliticsLondon Goes Live – ‘Poor Us: Young People And The Economy’

Apologies for the recent inactivity over the past weeks whilst I’ve been away!

I’ve not been completely lazy though…

A few weeks ago I made my Live Magzine debut, writing about how and why young people feel so aggrieved, growing up amidst such economic uncertainty. Live Magazine is a great publication (both print and online), which serves to offer a platform for young journalists such as myself to evoke debate and conversation, across a number of different fields. Live really is ‘The Voice Of Youth’, and I hope I’ve just made that voice a little louder!

Don’t worry though, PoliticsLondon will continue to be the full time home for the latest ramblings of a certain politically vocal young Londoner.

Get reading!

http://www.live-magazine.co.uk/2012/07/poor-us-young-people-and-the-economy

…And following : @politicslondon