Once upon a time the best place to get accurate, authentic information about some thing, or some one, was to go direct to the source. But, over time, people have become suspicious of many of these sources; whether it’s governments, businesses or the media.
For a while we relied upon intermediaries to help us find the truth. But journalism and PR have now become more interested in selling things and promoting their agendas rather than giving us the real story.
Social tools – blogs, Facebook, twitter etc. – seem to be changing that. These forms of direct contact now bring us back within ear-shot of the horse’s mouth and once again we are listening.
But there are risks.
Social media have given everyone a voice. Find yourself a keyboard and, reasonable or not, informed or not, honest or not, you can have your say. That’s a powerful and valuable opportunity.
‘Savvy’ users know how to get their story out, but there is no obligation for anyone to tell the whole story or even the truth. The power of social communications therefore relies on the balancing effect of the community; the correcting post or the critical tweet is an essential element in rounding out the picture and creating a fuller understanding of the issues.
But, we are in danger of letting the voices we want to hear become drowned out by the neighing and braying of the herd. Trolls and bullies hide behind anonymous pseudonyms and bring nothing to the conversation but attention seeking, mischief and, all to often, outright viciousness.
Everyone has a voice now and everyone has the opportunity to shape the conversation. So, we all have a choice to make, act like a thoroughbred or behave like a horse’s ass.