Questioning Mass Media and Social Media

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I agree with hooks about mass media being the primary source of feminist information. And I agree that this is not the ideal route by which to transport ideas. But I also don't think that social media is the best way to raise awareness either.

I loved to read about the Moldova protest or about the Iranian people finding inspiration to seek freedom. I found it astounding that someone would post their abortion to empower women to believe that they have to power to choose. And I found the Incite! blog to be completely enlightening. My question is, who is looking at these cites? Who is reading these blogs? Can I trust what I read on the internet?

The unfortunate truth, in my opinion, is that the people who read these blogs, visit these cites, and follow the Tweets are the people who are already feminists or are at least have an interest. And I was taught at a young age to always question what I read on the internet. I'm not saying that any of these cites are lying, nothing of that sort. But what about other people? My issue with mass media is similar, I don't think that mass media is a trustworthy source of information either.

The problem with mass media is that it is trying to be geared towards a particular audience and information is always going to be slightly biased. Although, I suppose, that's almost completely impossible to avoid.

In the end I think the best way to spread information is through personal connection. There's power behind the spoken word, it's something that I don't think can ever be replaced.

3 Comments

I really appreciated your criticism of social media. As one who's a bit skeptical of activism dependent upon social media, I think you brought several really excellent points to the table.
First, I'm inclined to agree that much of social media is a very self-selective process. In many instances I would find it hard to believe that individuals who are critical of feminism would search out and take the time to investigate feminist social media. Perhaps this an incorrect assumption, however, I do think for the most part people self select the media they will agree with and are looking to be exposed to.
Second, it is exceedingly important to be critical of what is read over the internet as there are both dangers and advantages to having a space in which such a broad range of people can be reached and reach out to the world.
With both of these points in mind, I'd like to expand on your statement that mass media is "geared toward a particular audience" as I think it rings true on several levels. One of my greatest critiques of activism relying on social media is the accessibility of internet/media to the general public. In many instances, I think that the assumption that a revolution can be started over media is true, only so long as the population concerned is in a position of privilege allowing for media to be the primary vehicle for information. However, I think it is imperative to recognize the populations which are silenced by lack of access and representation in mass media. In this way, I think the media gives us a biased account of who lives in the world as a whole in addition to allowing representation for only a fraction of the world.
These arguments are not to discount the potential power of social media in reaching the masses. However, I hope to further your critique of social media by attempting to draw attention to the ways in which privilege defines whose voices are heard and in which spaces people are allowed to have their voices projected to the masses.

I agree with, and want to expand on, gusto448’s entry. The important question is whether or not social media can act as, what Hooks refers to as, a “mass-based movement” (24). She calls for a return to solidarity and consciousness raising as well as involving everyone in feminist interests. But, as gusto448 says, who’s reading these blogs and tweets?
The positive aspects of social media are that they allow conversation, debate, and an environment where there is no one person in charge.

The downsides, however, are that anyone can write whatever they want. Hooks talks about targeting young women in which case Twitter seems like a great place to start. But how many uninformed/feminist-hating blogs are out there? Who’s educating these women? The criticism of moving feminism into academics is that works like postmodern theory takes front row. If academia has overthrown the communal base for consciousness raising, is it possible to blend the two? Is it possible to create discussion without polarizing people even more?

I think that social media can be a useful tool but we shouldn’t be blind to the problems it poses. There is a quote from Hooks that I think is especially fitting. “To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality (110).”

All forms of media are not free of limitations -- all attempting to reproduce and simulate first hand knowledge and observations. That being true, it's vital to question the effectiveness of these forms of information transmission. Social media is unique in its ability to provide two-way dialogues versus one-way transmission of most other media. However, both social media and other forms of media require a certain amount of separation from other individuals. This type of alienation is counter-intuitive to a social movement that requires revolution.

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