Technology

Social Media & Social Consciousness: 2013 in Review

By Jesse Muhammad -Final Call Social Media- | Last updated: Dec 24, 2013 - 10:45:43 AM

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Like money, social media is a tool that will amplify its possessor.

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Social media has become a weapon in the hands of people seeking to spread relevant information, sparking revolutionary action. Others have continued to engage in perpetual “dumbing down” of the public by disseminating the latest gossip and happenings from scandalous television shows.

Either way, my point: The global impact of social media is clearly not a fad and something that cannot be ignored. In coming years, use of tablets, smart phones and popular social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook is not expected to slow down. The proper use of technology enables individuals, organizations and corporations to connect directly to like-minded people or a fan base at a more rapid pace.

Coupled with taking action on the ground in 2013, social networking sites served as go-to places used to keep abreast of, weigh-in on, support and disseminate updates about such 2013 events as the Boston Marathon bombing, the federal government shutdown, the controversial verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, the conflict in Syria, and the saga of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and exposed racist marketing ads by corporations such as Home Depot.

Not to be left out are Paula Deen’s use of the N-word, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s crack smoking and Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend.

It has become almost a staple in today’s journalism for reports to include the reaction of people on social media, in particular the Twitterverse. Digital outrage and heavily circulated petitions have forced corporations to apologize, celebrities to lose jobs and entertainers to see endorsement deals stripped.

During a national crisis, social media becomes a hub by which citizen journalists provide eyewitness accounts and pass on information that can potentially create headlines. Whether it’s a mass shooting or a natural disaster, news organizations, government agencies and law enforcement are in part relying on potential leads from the internet.

According to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of the public points to the internet as their main source for national and international news. That figure is 71 percent for those between the ages of 18-34. The surveys also found more Americans consume news on their mobile devices and younger people have largely abandoned printed news sources.

Let’s face it, we live in a world of people with their eyes fixated on bright screens, heads tilted at 45-degree angles, earphones locked in, social media feeds streaming and thumbs swerving.

A March 2013 study conducted by the International Data Corporation titled, “Always Connected: How Smartphones and Social Keep Us Engaged,” projected that at least 181 million Americans would own a smartphone by the end of the year. That number is forecast to grow to 222 million over the next four years.

Smartphone owners ages 18-44 spend an average of 132 minutes each day using their device; seventy-nine percent have their phone on or near them for all but up to 2 hours while awake; sixty-two percent reach for their smartphone immediately after waking up, while 79 percent wait at least 15 minutes; and 25 percent admitted they couldn’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t near them, the study noted.

A model for raising the social media conversation and consciousness

When embarking upon his unprecedented 52-week YouTube lecture series, “The Time and What Must Be Done,” which also airs over noi.org, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called on youth, student ministers, Believers and supporters of the Nation of Islam to use social media to create intelligent dialogue centered on his hour-long broadcasts.

“I think we should strive to fill the airwaves of the social media, or the internet, with intelligent discourse rather than the vanity and useless foolishness that is constantly being used on the internet, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter pages,” advised Minister Farrakhan.

Every Saturday evening at 6 p.m. CST, people are logging into Twitter and live tweeting salient points from Minister Farrakhan with the hashtags #TheTime and #Farrakhan. Simultaneously they’re sharing his words on Facebook and Instagram.

This budding concerted effort, known in cyberspace as the “Farrakhan Twitter Army,” has resulted in #TheTime and #Farrakhan becoming national and world trending topics. Even non-members of the N.O.I. began to join in this digital propagation of the truth.

In fact, a statistical analysis of Twitter from his first 49 broadcasts shows Minister Farrakhan has trended nationally 41 times and worldwide 14 times. He has held the number one spot 8 times and has not failed to trend nationally every week dating back to May 11.

This doesn’t include all of the other streaming messages he delivered from Black college campuses to the Caribbean that the Twitter Army trended. For example, his December 1 event in Indianapolis trended nationally for three straight hours and five hours in some major cities such as New York.

On Oct. 19, the Farrakhan Twitter Army hosted its very first Tweet Up during the Holy Day of Atonement weekend in Tuskegee, Ala. The purpose for the Tweet Up was to show honor and gratitude to Minister Farrakhan, the “Commander-In-Tweet” honoree, as well as to recognize a group within the Twitter Army for their hard work.

In the midst of his rigorous schedule, Minister Farrakhan has answered thousands of questions in his #AskFarrakhan Twitter chats and #FarrakhanFridays dialogues on Facebook.

Are his enemies pleased with this type of digital truth trafficking? What new policy will they try to implement in hopes of being able to thwart this model of how to get truth trending that Minister Farrakhan has inspired? What will you do with these tools in the coming year to raise the consciousness of those you have influence over?

Information is warfare.

(Jesse Muhammad is based in Houston. Follow him on Twitter @BrotherJesse and send your social media questions to him via email at jesse.muhammad@gmail.com.)

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