Ice cream parlors love to promote a flavor of the month. For an entire month you can be enamored with some new and exciting flavor. Maybe it has bits of fruit in it, or pieces of candy, or maybe an unusual ingredient like chile peppers. What it’s made of isn’t really important though. All that matters is that it is new and exciting. You and all of your friends can eat the flavor of the month and talk about it. For that month, it seems like it’s the best tasting ice cream you’ve ever had and you can’t imagine a world without it. Then the next month rolls around and it’s the same thing with a different flavor.
There’s always a flavor of the month and it’s not always in an ice cream shop. With the advent of social media, it seems like things and events catch fire on a global scale. However, oftentimes that fire burns crazy hot for a brief moment and then vanishes.
Do events benefit from social media? If a happening receives global attention through social media, will the added awareness lead to a more positive outcome? Or is it that social media trivializes important events?
There is no doubt that social media amplifies awareness. Social media interconnects the entire world. Someone can drop their ice cream cone in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and someone in France can watch the story unfold on Instagram. However, awareness alone won’t lead to change. It doesn’t matter if the whole world knows about something if there’s no action.
It’s unrealistic to think that a Twitter post will change the world. Sure, it would be great if the world could share a post about world hunger and world hunger vanished, but that’s not how it works. Still, it’s great that social media can bring the level of awareness to the number of people that it does. However, there is a potential danger in social media bringing huge flashes of attention to happenings in the world.
Just as social media has the potential to increase awareness of an event, it has the potential to trivialize it. If showing care or interest in something becomes popularized, the risk of insincerity rises. In the same way that everyone will want to buy the newest flavor of ice cream at the ice cream parlor, everyone will want to express their opinion for a globally popular event. The trouble is, often their opinion might not really be their own onion. In the same way a person doesn’t want to be the only one who doesn’t like the new flavor, people will express insincere caring just to fit in.
That then trivializes the event itself. If an individual is voicing trendy opinions, and they’re doing it to be a part of a global movement rather than out of interest or concern for the actual matter at hand, that matter loses its meaning. The response becomes more important than what provoked the response, and by the time the next flavor comes around, no one cares about what just happened.