25 Kasım 2012 Pazar

Social vs. Media

Social; (adj., sociology) Communal. Media (noun) Communication media.

When these two terms come together, we can obverse a love in a cottage, a new sub culture would be born named ‘social media’, and the statement “Medium is the message” by Marshall McLuhan proves itself.

We should not deceive ourselves by saying “How social I am, let’s make this a media issue” while thinking of the social media. What we call as social media was once the SMS chat that we had been doing at the end of 90’s and beginning of 2000, and the love and passion messages that we had sent to TV channels that were running these messages at the bottom of the screen with a sliding black board.

The part within the red box is the message board.

The lead of this media is the social network called Facebook, which was created in 2004 (in 2006, it has become a website that everybody over 13 years old can create a profile). By the year of 2012, this website has a total of 845 million users. (see: Wikipedia)

Facebook is followed up by Twitter, which was created in 2006 and now has a total 140 million active users and people send 340 million tweets in a day on this website. (see again: Wikipedia)

Later on, so many social websites have joined this community, including Google, which launched Google Plus.

Marshall McLuhan says that; “We can’t define internet, internet technologies, tools for internet technologies and websites as good or bad. What defines them as good or bad is in which way we use them.” McLuhan also describes the new world as a “global village” bounded via internet, and points out the necessity of social media and networking. He even says that:

“Medium is the message.”

This sentence shortly means that: The tool, the medium that we use for communication is the message itself.

Now let’s think about what this could mean by considering an example; what is the difference between news on a newspaper as printed and written with 140 characters on a website? It might seem as there is no difference, but there actually IS, and this is totally caused by perception. Think about the process of the newspaper: the news is written, prepared for the newspaper, decided on which page it should be placed and which part of the page, the actual newspaper that is delivered to the printing house in order to be copied, sent to the newsstands, we buy the newspaper, come to our home and begin to read it. Do you realize how long the process that it takes? So this process gives a value to the news that we read on the newspaper, thus, ‘reading the newspaper’ gains value. This could be the reason that I agree with the people that respect to the process of a newspaper and that reading a printed newspaper is still an original behave. The printed article is always different!

Now think about the news prepared for a news website; it is just written, revised by the so called sensitive editors of the website -or never revised!- and is published on the website. You click on the news, read it, comment below, and share it on Twitter and Facebook.

...so what happened? Let me say: we've become a fast consumer society- or we are becoming. It could be wrong if we were to say we've already become, because this is a time period. The news of a bomb explosion or people marching on the street bears a different value, a person posting the news on Twitter and commenting about it bears another. At this point, the respect that people give to the printed media can be observed more than it is given to Facebook or Twitter. On March 13th 2011, famous Turkish arabesque singer İbrahim Tatlıses was shot from his head and it was considered as huge news over the week. What had happened then? A person that named Alihan or Alişan on Twitter claimed that he was in a hospital room next to İbrahim Tatlıses', and began to share information about Tatlıses' health. One or two websites posted same news as this guy posted on Twitter "after" he posted, and this had become a guarantee for the users that this guy was telling the truth. The next day this guy showed up again and posted on Twitter the following information: "I was not at the hospital last night, I only wanted to have more followers. For your information." So what did this mean? It meant that we were involved on Twitter so deep without realizing the news are true or false.

Such kind of group psychology can always be observed on Twitter. Do you know how many times has Münir Özkul (famous old Turkish actor, best known for his role “Teacher Mahmut [http://img.bugun.com.tr/mahmut-hoca-dua-bekliyor_133713.jpg]” in “Hababam Sınıfı” series) been "killed" on Twitter? Or Keanu Reeves, or Morgan Freeman, or many other celebrities/famous people? Twitter also has a function of putting a keyword, a name, a word or a sentence that is posted on the tweets by many people, on the trending topics list, which means that that keyword is discussed the most. This does not affect if the keyword is true or false, but if it is posted, discussed by the most, it is perceived as true.

Similar things also happen on Facebook. Some pictures, news, or articles (either good or bad) are shared, and below some of them you can read such comments as:

"Filiz sevişelimmi?" ("Shall we have sex Filiz?")

For a very long time, this comment had appeared
under most of the Facebook posts, either meaningful
or meaningless.

In such situations, these two huge social websites gather two different meanings in our country (and maybe on others as well): Twitter as a service to dish on someone; Facebook as a service to have sex(?). Don't deny these facts of both websites as if you don't use them for such issues; in which way the majority uses internet and social network sites labels them.

Both Twitter and Facebook are used by celebrities as well, but they actively use Twitter for instant information, photo share etc. Some of them register to Twitter just so as to decline the fake news and deliver true information about themselves, and some register only to communicate with their fans, such as Madonna; she had created an account on Twitter in order to promote his latest album "MDNA" and answer questions of her fans. Same thing happens in Turkey when the Mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek registers to Twitter a few years ago and begins to chat with people.

The problem is that people generally and usually criticize Melih Gökçek (mostly the citizens of Ankara) negatively and accuse him for not managing the city aright, and that Melih Gökçek generally cannot take negative/bad criticizm. When he registered to Twitter and began to tweet with people, negative tweets and comments were high enough to irritate him and to make him fall back upon suing people. This hasn't changed so much as he still provokes people, and teases on politics- which is not his main duty! The more he uses Twitter besides his main job, the more he creates debates.

Melih Gökçek accuses a female Twitter user of 
'having an abortion' because she shouted at him.

YouTube is not any different from these two social websites. Great, high quality, also meaningless, ridiculous videos that people upload on there are watched by millions. A video entitled as "Charlie bit my finger - again!", which shows a little boy and his younger brother who bites his brother's finger, has been watched by 490 million people and still counting:

I can't pass the fact that the comments section below the video is used as an instant messaging service. What happens on this video? What it delivers? An excellent answer comes from the famous TV show character Seinfeld: "Everything about nothing." Yes, it doesn't give anything, but also it does... so that 490 million people have watched it to date. The kids on this video now have a YouTube channel, 167.000 subscribers, and their videos are watched 625+ million times. This means that these kids are now internet celebrities and their videos are watched by thousand (and millions) of people. They are more famous than Madonna's or Tom Cruise's children.

YouTube is not only about garbage or meaningless videos -news and information videos are shared as well-, but the general motto of the site, in my opinion, still remains the same: Everything about nothing. We can't say this just for YouTube, this is valid for all over the internet - except the users that don't use the internet for 'nothing', they are acquitted. But the strange thing is that everybody thinks of themselves as the conscious users and they don't accept the fact that sometimes they use the internet and social networking sites for nothing. Even the founder of Twitter says that Twitter is a trash site, get over it!


Justin Bieber's "Baby" vs Psy's "Gangnam Style"
two most popular music videos on YouTube

We cannot ignore a fact that underlies the perception of social networking in Turkey: We live in a society where people see a camera and give the reaction, "What is that camera for? What does it record?" and even want to be recorded and become popular via a simple 'camera'. Or shortly, we are such a society that likes to become famous in an easier way. This might be happening in foreign countries as well, the the level is high on us. In Turkey, if a man that doesn't want to talk with his wife at home and decide to go coffee house (in Turkey, mostly a place where men hangout) is handed a microphone to talk about the news of Turkey, he will speak longer than expected - he likes to speculate and express his own thoughts. Suddenly, people merge around him and he becomes such a 'prime minister'.

A Turkish man discusses what a celebrity
would do in a public marketplace.

If we examine the situation according to this example, our approach to social media can easily be defined as "known by people", "followed by people". There are two types of people on social media: ones that say what they want and are followed and others that say what people want to hear so that they will be followed. We are on the second category. This creates the issue of becoming "sociopath"; we want people that we might not be able to communicate or reach in real life to follow us on cyber society. I mean, this of course has benefits, since you can't follow thousands of people at the same time in real life; but if this crosses the limit of cyber identification, it can be titled as sociopath.

One thing can define you and make you be unique on social media: conscious. It is ridiculous to talk about conscious, since the owner of Twitter describes the website and the shared material as "garbage"; but how much your tweets are shared, how many friends you have on Facebook, and how 'elegant' you write on social media, if you have a conscious that you can control, then there is no problem.

With the fact of conscious and consciousness, we can talk about a famous Turkish website, Ekşi Sözlük, a website which has a general purpose, to "inform" people, or let's say in a sarcastic way, to "enlighten" people.

The website has a left frame for topics (words, sentences, names, numbers, anything you can imagine, with parenthetic numbers that displays how many entries have been added in the current day), right frame for general view of entries that are written for the specific topic. It is a new, modern way of the dictionary from the book "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"; on Ekşi Sözlük, people write definitions for anything according to their own experiences.

The usual layout of Ekşi Sözlük; left frame is for the topics list,
right (and main) frame is for the entries (information).

This website has been observed as contrarian since the day it was born, and from that day on, people see this website as a place where they can write and express their contrary opinions about usual things, people, issues etc. But, although the owner of the website (Sedat Kapanoğlu) explains that this website is not only for contrary entries and should not be observed as a whole contrarian website, the way a few users approach to the website affects many; people think that they should register to Ekşi Sözlük in order to criticize or blame something, someone etc.

A Turkish journalist accuses Ekşi Sözlük users as 'rubbish' people
because they have been discussing religion.

This is the side effect of social media, consumer society and that a thought, an idea is unable to hold for so long. Yet, Ekşi Sözlük tries to break down this barrier and to hold on the internet for "freedom of expression". But it can't be underestimated that how people use it, how people 'want' to use it, defines the website, good or bad. This brings out the critical, contrarian part of Turkish internet users - the part of us which we sometimes can't restrain, and this leads to "labeling" Ekşi Sözlük, or any other website.

In conclusion, if you try to combine "social" and "media" words together (in Turkey or in any other foreign country), you can reach to different results. Since that we discuss the accuracy of sociability in the era of wide spread technology and internet, the adaptation of social onto media should be resigned to the internet users. And the meaning of the social media is not within itself; it can only be defined by the users of it. "Medium is the message", and which website, which platform, which medium you use, defines your message as well.

A brief explanation of the social media

I want to end my article with the famous scene from the movie "Matrix": Morpheus sits in front of you, and says that; this is the blue pill, which is the social media, you register there, you write to people, people follow you, you make jokes, you become popular etc. And this is the red pill, which is the real life, real you, how you speak, how you appear defines you. Choose one, says Morpheus, blue pill or red pill? How much real is the social media for you?

Hiç yorum yok:

Yorum Gönder