University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
Nowadays, the use of social media has increased enormously, making us more connected either in public or privet communication in the region. It has tremendous effects on challenging many countries that have sought freedom. In fact, the so-called Arab spring has been titled as “social media revolution”, starting from Tunisia and spreading over to Egypt, Libya, and other countries. The Arab Spring got worldwide social, political and media attention due to its characteristics and connectedness with local, regional, and international interests. There is no doubt that social media had an impact on events that had happened in Arab spring, but it is not in the way that many researchers might think. These are confirmed by two individuals whose articles are going to be discussed, namely Malcom Gladwell and Richard Dawkins. Each one of them supports this in a different view.
The article “Small Change” by Malcom Gladwell is about social media and its effect. The article aims to convince the reader that social media does not lead to any social and political changes as one would think. Although the popularity of social media has been increasing tremendously, social media fails when it comes to actual changes. While many researchers might think that social media played an important part in the Arab spring, it was supportive but not exclusively responsible for the events of the Arab spring.
Malcom Gladwell offers a very effective argument to clarify why social media is not a sufficiently effective tool used in organizing social or political activism. Based on historical events Gladwell states that in the absence of social media protestors from different events tend to be stronger, more organized, and people have stronger emotional feelings. To make his argument strong, he starts with the Greensboro sit-ins as a solid example. Despite the fact that the protestors were only four college students, it ended up involving a large number of students across the South. This happened despite the fact that there was no social media such as Facebook or Twitter during that time. Then he illustrated the weak-ties that are related to social media and how it leads to high risk of activism. Social media establishes a large network based upon consensus beside a hierarchy, and then he disputes that many activist movements have not succeeded on the large scale when lacking a central authority and hierarchy. These historical examples not only support his thesis with solid logic, but they draw an intense proof that Civil Rights Movement came without the use of social media.
Gladwell shows extensive knowledge and research on the topic as well as the use of countless examples, making his article rhetorically effective and persuasive. He addresses counter-arguments in both the beginning and end of his article, making his article tremendously strong. However, throughout his article, Malcolm Gladwell could have built an indisputable rhetorical argument if he gave more evidence about the Arab Spring. For those countries that had been seeking freedom, especially the Arab spring, social media such as Facebook and Twitter played a major role to bring the news since the majority were not connected due to the lack of access to instruments that they could use to access information. During this time, even the social media in general was suspended. They therefore relied on radio and TV for news and information.
Richard Dawkins on the other hand declares in his article that what lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, warm breath, not ‘a spark of life’ but information, words and instructions. He says that the cells of an organism comprise of nodes that are richly interwoven communication networks that transmit and receive information. They also codes and decodes the received information. Evolution in itself also embodies on an ongoing change of information between an organism and his or her environment. He says that whenever a person wants to understand life and all the aspect which surround it, one needs to think about information and technology.
Human beings have been surrounded by information which is coming from all quarters. The skills of human beings now include Googling and texting. To some extent, it can be agreed that what is being proposed by Dawkins is true to some extent. He says that the rise in technology has led to the change in which people view life. People nowadays view their lives in a very different way.
It is true that when technology was invented, its aim as to help improve the lives of the human being. Human beings are now using the technology not to benefit themselves to the extent that they forget their friends. People are more concerned nowadays with what they post in social sites like Facebook and Twitter than the conversation which they carry out with their friends. The overreliance on technology is affecting the society is quite a number of negative ways.
When Googling and texting for example which Dawkins is proposing that people are now engaging themselves into, has led to a number of negative results. The students who should be engaging themselves in serious research are no longer doing that. They google whatever information that they are looking for and then present whatever they find as the result. This has led to production of professionals who are themselves amateurs. Copy pasting has been the order of the day (Turkle, 2011: 34).
The society is also the social skills which used to be embraced in the olden days. When people meet, they rarely shake hands and this reduces the bond between people. Shaking hands make people share their deepest sentiments with each other. These are activities which are now not being done. They are considered as being outdated.
Technology is truly isolating people. Sometimes during the break time, you realize that each and every student in school is attached to their phone. They have no time for the physical friends. They only appreciate the virtual friends whom they have on the social sites. When a person sees the number of followers they have on Twitter and Instagram, they tend to believe that they have the world with them. This might not be the case (Turkle, 2011: 34).
Dawkins states that the way in which an idea is spread is not very important. The idea can either thrive in the meme pool or it can dwindle depending on the way in which the idea is perceived at first. An example that he uses is the belief in God. He says the belief has been replicating for now a long time. It has been spread through the use music and art. This is the reason to date, many people believe in the existence of God. This cannot be used to justify the fact that the meme pool is effective. The idea of the meme can only be applied to some elements.
There are some people who are also just alive and they do not have the improved technology at their fingertips. They will still get access to the information but at later stages. It can therefore be agreed that even though the technology improves the way in which people interact with one another, it has also affected the manner in which people are interacting.
“Log In – The New York Times.” Log In – The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.
Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Cambridge, 2011. Print.