Whether you call yourself a tweeter or not, if you haven’t taken notice of the role of social media in society right now, it is time to get your head out of the sand and look around a little. I am not just referring to Facebook groups and blog posts, but to media in business markets as well. The world is watching as social unrest and a wave of violence rolls through Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and now England. Regimes struggle for power over increasing revolutionaries.
Culture is shaping the change as much as change is shaping the culture. What I mean is as social media lets organizations form and take action quickly and the information reaches a lot of people. Media narratives have been accused of adopting similar tones to the uprising. I watched Levi’s “Go Forth” video ad campaign before I found out it was canceled because its message was too similar to the violent London riots this week and could influence more rioting. I had to watch it again to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t remember any violence or gang references in the video.
A spokesman for Levi’s, in defense of the campaign ad, said it was not about specific political events, but meant to inspire “optimism, positive action and a pioneering spirit” in the world. How similar is the video to reality? The voiceover is Charles Bukowski’s poem, The Laughing Heart, which is about living—not destroying. It’s about taking chances—not taking power.
On the other hand, the ad’s audience targets young adults who have been the driving force in the recent uprisings. And while it may seem trivial, media has an uncompromising influence on the youth.
Or perhaps, the criticisms were out of elitism fear of social changes. A Vanity Fair article on inequality that I read for a class recently reflects on the implications of the oppressed protests and its possible spread to other countries with widening gaps between the poor and wealthy. Perhaps the censoring of media is to maintain things the way they are, and we should stand up for change. Is media influencing us enough to take to the streets?
Watch it for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT16DcHcjRA&feature=player_embedded