Pit­falls of so­cial me­dia

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - OPINION -

Can our Demo­cratic so­ci­ety adapt to the im­pact of so­cial me­dia? So­cial me­dia has demon­strated how deep di­vi­sions are amongst the left and right; leav­ing cen­trists like me to won­der how we got here. The im­pact of so­cial me­dia is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend. Let me ex­plain. As I write to my lo­cal pa­per, I hope sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple get to read it, if I’m lucky. My let­ter must first pass min­i­mal muster at the lo­cal pub­lisher and will take a few days to be printed.

If I put it on so­cial me­dia, it will reach many thou­sands of read­ers in an in­stant. It could reach one hun­dred mil­lion peo­ple in a few days. Sadly, the size of my au­di­ence may only be based on how “en­tic­ing” my let­ter is. Cer­tainly, adding a picture of a cute puppy to my post will dou­ble my read­er­ship. But think about it. No one will vet what I write on so­cial me­dia for ac­cu­racy, cor­rect­ness, value, ethics, di­ver­sity, hon­esty or bias un­til af­ter ev­ery­one sees it.

If you are a politi­cian, how care­ful are you with what you say and do in pub­lic nowa­days? Are you mea­sur­ing your words with an eye on so­cial me­dia? You bet­ter. The net­work TV re­port or news­pa­per ar­ti­cle about your com­ments will be old news by the time it’s aired. This is why more and more politi­cians are hid­ing be­hind party lines. One off the cuff or mis­in­ter­preted state­ment can put in front of mil­lions of eyes in less than a sec­ond. Politi­cians can use this as a tool (see POTUS) or they can choose to stay off the so­cial me­dia radar (see Congress). The bot­tom line is you could never be­lieve ev­ery­thing you read in the past, and that is truer to­day than ever be­fore.

— Bart Pic­cir­illo Bethany

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