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There’s more to social media than ‘selfies’

/ 01:57 AM March 02, 2014

US President Barack Obama (right) and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a picture with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt (center) next to US First Lady Michelle Obama during the memorial service of South African former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg on Tuesday, December 10, 2013. AFP FILE PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT

There’s more to social media than selfies and “food pornography,” or what has become the exercise of visual presentation of yummy food and drinks on one’s Facebook or Instagram account.

Thrown the serious issues, Filipinos, particularly the younger generation, are not completely lost as manifested by the questions they asked during the recent Inquirer Conversations forum held at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Journalism student Jasper Arcalas, for instance, wanted to know how young people can cultivate the art of introspection in the face of information overload and lack of privacy on the Internet.

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Lara Muralles, also a journalism student, zeroed in on the Internet as a source of information. “Are the facts reported accurately?” she asked.

Held at Albertus Magnus auditorium, the second Inquirer Conversations featured Inquirer columnist and University of the Philippines professor emeritus Randy David and was titled “How the Internet and the Social Media are Changing our Lives.”

David, who is also a sociologist, noted how “Internet-based communication is outstripping everything else about the way we live, forcing us to make quick adjustments, and making our lives more unpredictable in the long term.”

“Just reflect on the impact of the Internet on the way we define and present ourselves, the way we connect to our families, the way we manage our relationship with God, the way we get the news and the way we create wealth or spend it,” he said.

David said the Internet has also made an impact on “the way we study, think, speak and work; the way we love, bring up our children, raise a family; and even in the way we protest, express solidarity, or seek justice.”

Betamax blockbuster

He compared this to how the VHS (Video Home System) and Betamax video formats helped spread communication during the 1986 People Power Revolution.

It was much the same way that the cell phone and text messaging helped in the mass mobilization during the 2001 Edsa people power uprising, he said.

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“Edsa 1 took four days, while Edsa 2 was just a day,” David said, explaining how the advent of electronic media has opened novel ways of communicating and at a faster speed.

David cited the Million People March at Rizal Park in Manila in 2013, which was “assembled on Twitter and Facebook.”

Today’s “Internet-based” media, David said, “compresses time and space; and it’s also a lot cheaper.”

“You don’t need to own a newspaper or printing press or TV network to create and disseminate. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC—and a free account on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.,” he said.

And unlike the non-Internet based media which are one-way affairs with passive recipients, the new media “gives the recipient the power not just to respond but to originate and disseminate communication.”

“That’s a lot of power. Ethical rules and laws are slowly evolving to ensure accountable use of that power,” David said.

 ‘Ominous’ trends

Against the power of the Internet, what then are the chances of the newspaper? Has technology killed the print media? Journalism student Mia Mallari raised these questions.

David called the trends in reporting “ominous,” which is why newspapers are “migrating to other platforms.”

But are the facts, and the news, reported accurately on the Internet? asked journalism student Muralles.

David noted the Internet’s lack of a “universal checker” and that attempts to regulate it have failed.

“Technology is a double-sided blade: The biggest challenge is how to put its beneficial applications in the hands of those who have less in life—the poor, the struggling, the excluded. And how to enhance its use to fight oppression, tyranny, unaccountable surveillance and domination,” he also said.

He also raised the need for people “to set aside time and space to reflect on how these changes are affecting us at the personal level.”

“Value changes are taking place without being noticed,” he said.

Inquirer board chair Marixi Prieto, who delivered the welcome remarks, told the 500 students gathered at Albertus Magnus auditorium, “We hope that the Inquirer Conversations will tickle your senses, challenge your views and change your perception.”

The interaction was extended on Twitter, where netizens posted questions and comments using the hashtag #InqConversations.

“Great talk, wise words, inspiring thoughts, encouraging messages,” netizen @floannee said.

“It was great listening to them yesterday! So much intellect!” netizen @underweavin posted on Twitter.

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart. Thank you so much for sharing more knowledge,” said netizen @marzramos. With a report from Paul Vincent Balois

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TAGS: Facebook, Food Pornography, Inquirer Conversations, Instagram, Internet, Randy David, Selfies, Social Media, technology, Twitter, University of Santo Tomas
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