2011 saw the future King of England marry his Princess, but unlike his parents’ wedding, William and Kate’s special day invited a special set of guests: the Netizens.
The mighty netizens that can trend whatever hashtag it wills. From the fuzzy #RoyalWedding to the empowering #ArabSpring. The people of the Middle East decided to utilize the power Social Media to fight and eventually overthrow power, so much so that they even wanted to proclaim Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg a modern hero.
In a web forum, however, Zuckerberg said Facebook did not fuel the revolution in places likeTunisia, Libya and Egypt. “It’s not a Facebook thing, it’s an internet thing,” the young mogul was quoted saying. It is an internet thing, and precisely the kind of power Social Media wields that when the deadly tsunami and earthquake hit Japan last March, the internet was the melting pot of all outreach, whether it was to send good thoughts or tangible help. And it was successful.
Even breaking exclusives has come to be a Twitter forte. The first reports of the Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan last May were from an unknowing Twitter user who was live tweeting an event he didn’t know at the time would be the fall of the world’s most wanted terrorist. Raw and vague tweets came dashing in onto Twitter, which were later confirmed by journalists from major media outfits- coming to the 140-character platform rather than getting in front of a camera and going live on TV.
New York Time’s Brian Stelter said over the documentary “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” and I quote: “I don’t know why anybody who’s a reporter isn’t on Twitter, I constantly berate my colleagues who aren’t on it. It drives me nuts hearingmy colleagues talk about a story at noon, and I read it on Twitter on midnight. Why is that allowed? Why are we not on top of the news?”
Here was a kid who had two things in excess: Internet time, and passion for news. He blogged and blogged about TV News long enough for the Times to notice and hire him, at a convenient time where WikiLeaks was just exploding, and Stelter had his game face on, looking out for leaked videos, cables, talking to Julian
Assange and convincing the Editors to put him on Page One.
Even the Philippines is having its share of WikiLeaks exposure, with the media milking the cable of Kristie Kenney allegedly underplaying Cory Aquino’s role in democracy. The former US envoy kept mum and could not be reached for an on-cam interview, but GMA News’ Lei Alviz had an idea: tweet Kenney, and although the reply was of “no comment” equivalent, Alviz was able to screengrab and voila, story is complete.
President Noynoy Aquino’s communication group, for one, is so fond of Twitter that they sometimes forget they are the Palace’s mouthpiece.
Atty. Edwin Lacierda, during the height of transport strikes, hit back at critics: “Noticed how leftists are so onion-skinned? Tinawag lang perjuicio ang strike, pumuputok ang butchi nila! Mahilig bumanat pero mga pikon pala.”
A journalist called Lacierda on it, saying he should separate personal opinion and government duty. But the Presidential spokesperson candidly replied: “Why? Who came up with those rules?”
Perhaps Atty. Lacierda is right, that there are no rules governing the platform and how News is integrated into it. But it only makes it more fun, more free, and this is not to say the media would have a carnival out of Twitter notoriety, just that news limited to recorders, cameras and steno pads is long over. Welcome to the digital era – where it is no longer enough to just think, do or be; now it’s to think, do, be something, and then tweet it.
Today, everyone has a voice, everyone – from top government officials to a street photographer – want a piece of Social Media for themselves, making stories that unfolded over the Internet a must for the mainstre
am audience, lest we alienate the more than 20 million Filipinos online whose voice and pull got Twitter to include Philippines among countries to have its own Trending Topic list, and get this, language. [GMA News Online: Twitter now in Tagalog]
Some say this might be used as a tool for sloppy research, but as its very nature goes, the rampant use of Social Media among every kind of person – whether it be a citizen, a resource person, a subject, and the journalist – leaves no excuses for a work to lack a certain element. All you need, if not within a screen’s reach, pans out with the press of your fingertip.
Before Facebook, there was Friendster and Myspace; Social Networking was already a thing but not without the human element that Zuckerberg had so brilliantly weaved in, making it into a social product that everyone just can’t seem to get enough of.
“Now the cultural change is more and more people are finding that they can build a reputation, they can help disseminate interesting information, help people discover stuff, get credit for that, they can be part of people discovering other stuff and I just think that people are seeing, everyday, that it’s awesome.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Had the Anti-Planking bill been filed at a time of no Facebook and Twitter, it could have just as easily slipped through to become a law. But under netizens’ probing nose – no can do, Mr. Castelo. With Social Media,
there is a pressure for the government to get its act together and perform well – to please its people, and rightly so. After the DPWH photoshopped mess and the Batangas Hollywood sign brouhaha, every official is made to think more than twice about what he’ll push. In today’s trending topic times, no one wants to be made out to a meme. It’s funny but it just isn’t flattering.
Wasn’t it a blog post, which was followed by a site poll and then a loud online clamor that fast-tracked the renovation talks on
NAIA? The Ninoy Aquino International Airport had been in a poor state for a long time, but alas came the tweets and blogs that merited space in TV and broadsheets which left the government no other choice but to contain the public and say: Yes, we will renovate it, don’t you fret.
Wasn’t it Social Media that Tourism Chief Ramon Jimenez endorsed as the best medium to promote the Philippines? It can sell as well as Chicken Joy, he said. Best-selling author Paulo Coelho had once already tweeted dreaming of coming to the Philippines. With his almost 3 million followers, cult as you may, who worships and subscribes to every word he writes – expect a fraction of that to visit our islands.
Wasn’t it Social Media too who gave birth to Charice, Maria Aragon, and the worldwide phenom, Justin Bieber? The 12-year-old Justin, starting out in the Industry, thought up a marketing plan that some record execs in the Philippines are mind-blowingly failing to take notice of, he said: ‘I continued tweeting, promoting my shows, replying to messages, that way, my fans feel like they’re part of my career, from the beginning, it makes them feel they’re important, which they are.’
2011 saw the influx of issues that took to Social Media to get a push: some socially relevant, some turned out ugly, and some are just downright viral but nevertheless made our internet time (mischievously) worthwhile.The gauge today seems to be: if it didn’t rend, it just plain didn’t.
And let me close it with an excerpt from a piece by New York Time’s David Carr: “Like many newbies on Twitter, I vastly overestimated the importance of broadcasting on Twitter and after a while, I realized that I was not Moses and neither Twitter nor its users were wondering what I thought. Nearly a year in, I’ve come to understand that the real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice.” [New York Times: Why Twitter would endure]
No one in the internet, not even Lady Gaga, is Moses. But as Facebook reports to having 800 million users, and Twitter claiming its pushing to 200 million; with a well-meant cause, we, as roboheads and as people, could very well part the sea.