Social media has brought benefits beyond reckoning. Contemporary lives have become unimaginable without social media such as facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Whatever said and done, it is here to stay.
We may be far away from being a global village, but we have managed to become one in the domain of social media. National borders have become irrelevant. Information traverses between continents in just a second. Time and distance has become a thing of the past.
But besides these benefits, if we delve just a little into how it has changed the world, we will also find there are some potentially negative impacts too.
We need not look afar from examples. Take for an instance, the controversial website -bhutantimes.com. It is still vivid in our minds the popularity of the website before it was closed and how one ‘Common Man’ used it vehemently in defaming the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) before the 2008 election.
The anonymous user spelled doom for the PDP and even the government was coerced to ban the website at one point of time.
Whatever it is, the impact of the Common Man or bhutantimes.com, or for that matter the social media, cannot be basically undermined or brushed off. It has inadvertently had a huge impact in making Druk Phuensum Tshogpa the more popular party.
Now, a different form of social media is trending, basically facebook and twitter. Facebook has already become much popular amongst the youth. It was through this page that few Bhutanese started the tobacco movement.
The only major aspect here was that people were not anonymous. People were not afraid to voice out. The result of the government revisiting the tobacco act to certain extent could also be attributed to this movement on facebook.
It is twitter now that has become the source to know the state of affairs in the society. It has definitely become a place for news, policy discourses, rant, and vent one’s dissatisfaction and complaints, and gossip.
It is also becoming increasingly popular among politicians as a means to disseminate political messages, learn about the interests and needs of constituents and the broader public, and build networks of support.
Besides few incumbent members of the parliament, new unregistered political parties have also come on twitter, and a deluge of anonymous Bhutanese users on twitter off late.
And as such, there is no denying the possible impact social media can have in the upcoming election. It will definitely play a big role in determining how much votes a party will garner.
But what is more important is how constructively will it be used? For now, reputations getting tarnished, false rumors, defamation, distraction, smears, allegations, and untrue stories are all there to see.
[August 4, 2012]