The advantages and disadvantages of online media have been prominent in recent weeks. Today’s media is challenged with delivery of news events in split second time. With social media networks as FaceBook and Twitter, we have seen in the last two months, the revolution in Tunisia that resulted with the entire government being dismantled to the recent events in Egypt’s political unrest and revolution of the people.
In the history of the United States, we are witnessing world events change and have the opportunity to see the changes in almost real time. Tunisia’s revolution began by a citizen frustrated by social poverty and repression that used self-immolation. Witnessing that videotaped event on-line sparked the unrest across the Middle East.
One can look at these events as an advantage as it brings to light that people around the world are not afforded the democracies and social services as we do. If you’re a dictator like Mubarak, they are a negative impact, which is why he ordered Internet Services Providers to shut down. We witness history as Egypt’s communications services were erased except for the use of other venues of technology that utilized Twitter and Facebook.
United States news media is in a constant quest to break news. With the decline of hard cover papers and the publishing industry moving into the digital age, the speed you can report the news it is a very competitive business. We have become a population of news on demand. We want it now, and we want it fast. We even pay on-line subscriptions if our favorite news websites are not free.
Instant gratification becomes a disadvantage. We become addicted to the technology but part of the problem is the feeling of power we can achieve as we can pick and choose our favorite media and stay wired by Internet or smart phones. Information truly is power. News media pushes the content so fast to websites, many times fact checking is poor resulting in incorrect news. Some news media because of the freedom of speech can slander especially during a political campaign season.
Today’s online media presents law enforcement challenges as criminal activity escalates. Chat rooms are full of frauds that pose as nice people targeting young children or desperate people for crimes. Pornography is a whole entire industry that gains great momentum as well as gambling sites which attract those too weak to resist because of criminal minds, or those suffering from complex and serious addictions. Dating sites or classified as Craig’s List have led to murders.
On-line media provides avenues for education and long distance learning saving gas mileage and parking. Now you can acquire a degree at your own pace. Downloading e-books and articles gives us all the ability to avoid trips to the library. Those cramming nights for exams give us information at our fingertips.
When the First Amendment governing free speech was made law in 1791, which would have ever known that this protection to the people and ability to speak freely held the future of being delivered in seconds?
The advantages and disadvantages of online media really cannot be measured. Life is fast and our decisions create consequences. The ability to have encyclopedia’s, books, newspapers, medical advice, and a host of other genres at our fingertips helps advance our civilization. It is what we choose and how we handle the media that makes the difference. People will communicate and it is a way of life in the digital age.
Michael Anthony is an Iraq War Veteran and is the Author of: Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Destruction, and Dishonor in Iraq.