It's fashionable these days in some circles to deride social media, and in the case of business, many pundits are getting link bait by declaring that social is "over." As we grieve collectively over the Paris shootings this week, particularly those of us for whom expression of ideas is our passion, our living and our purpose in life (and with social, that's pretty much all of us), let's recognize the large role that social media has played.
Nearly immediately, as word of the shootings took place, the horror that was felt around the world was shared on the internet (mostly on Twitter; I don't know about your Facebook feed, but mine was largely silent and "trend-less" on the shootings); and more importantly, people created the galvanizing and global solidarity symbolized and instantly branded as "Je Suis Charlie." What's more, at the very core of social media, supported by all the traditional outlets of free expression from magazines like Charlie Hedbo to The New York Times, is an inexorable drive towards free expression, which is the real enemy of the Islamic terrorists who did this evil deed, and as George Packer points out in the New Yorker, many more as well, starting with Salman Rushdie but not ending yesterday, unfortunately.
As Packer says: "The cartoonists died for an idea. The killers are soldiers in a war against freedom of thought and speech, against tolerance, pluralism, and the right to offend-against everything decent in a democratic society." Nothing is better at creating ideas on a global scale than social media, and although it is a tool used as well by the terrorists, in the hands of those of us who champion freedom and tolerance, it is a significantly more powerful one.
image credit: The Mirror