The real power of social media: We’re already lagging behind

The real power of social media: We’re already lagging behind

None of history’s great empires, none of the genocidal conquistadors or god-on-their-side, blood-on-their-hands crusaders could have imagined a victory so complete as today’s data capitalists have, without firing a shot, secured.

Social media, in all its magnificence and horror, has changed the psychology of being an active, engaged member of society in an unprecedented way. This is not news but its reach, its ever-deepening penetration is an evolving mystery. Like Columbus or Cook setting sail on vast uncharted oceans, we know something lies ahead but we know not what.

Two reports yesterday underlined how social media has moved from being an occasional distraction from the real world to centre stage. Rugby superstar Israel Folau’s social media accounts appeared to have been deleted on the eve of a court hearing on his sacking by Rugby Australia.

This is a modern sending to Coventry, a 21st-century silencing. Whether this limit’s Folau’s right to free speech is a moot point but it is, in today’s terms, very real.

A survey published in Britain recorded that nearly a quarter of parents use pocket money to “bribe” children away from screens.

These developments are inevitable but what is not inevitable is a social media, enriching or disruptive, beyond the control of society or government. This is one of the great issues of our age but we are, dangerously, playing catch-up.

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