Zooming In on Narratives through Social Media

Nov 4 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

In an era where information consumption is revolutionised by technology, the use of social media and how it shapes narratives is an issue that provokes thought.

What was once dominated by traditional media institutions, the information landscape has been democratised, giving marginalised groups and individuals a platform to share their stories directly with the world.

This shift has had a profound impact on social discourse, enabling us to challenge and change existing records and raise awareness of critical issues.

One such stroke is the "MeToo" movement which exploded all over social media. By encouraging survivors to share their stories online, the movement exposed the pervasive nature of harassment, sparking a global conversation and forcing institutions to confront this issue.

Similarly, the "Black Lives Matter" movement has used social media to amplify the injustice against black people and document police brutality.

Virtual community has also played its role in mobilising activists and raising awareness about crucial issues, such as mass incarceration and voter suppression.

In a quest to reshape identities, these social networks have paved the way for individuals to reclaim and forge new identities. People with disabilities and chronic health conditions have used these platforms to challenge negative stereotypes and raise awareness about their lived realities.

They have built communities where they can share their experiences and support each other in ways that were not possible before and share inspiring success stories.

In addition to its narrative-shifting power, the social platform has also emerged as a potent tool for activism. Social media boycotts are increasingly used to pressure businesses and organisations to change their policies and practices.

The ease of transmitting trending news to millions worldwide makes it difficult to ignore, which could lead to decreased sales, reputational damage, and policy changes.

Companies are pressured to stop using sweatshop labour, adopt more sustainable practices, and donate to charitable causes while being accountable for human rights abuses and environmental damage.

The wave has also come to Ethiopia with internet users hovering around 20.86 million people at the start of 2023 while its profound impact is yet to be seen. But with the road to digitisation exceeding by the year, its effect will be inevitable.

While social media has been used to promote positivity, it can also be exploited to spread misinformation.

A study by the University of Cambridge found that social media use leads to the formation of echo chambers as it often prioritises pre-existing beliefs and preferences of users when selecting content.

Reinforcing an existing opinion makes it difficult to consider alternative viewpoints.

As a result, individuals may become more entrenched in their ideologies and less open to engaging with diverse perspectives. Furthermore, the viral nature of misinformation can quickly amplify false narratives, creating a significant challenge for fact-checkers and contributing to the erosion of trust in traditional media sources.

It is essential to be critical of the information we encounter on social media and to verify it with other sources. Nevertheless, social media remains a powerful tool for shifting narratives and challenging the status quo.

The modern era empowered by digitisation enables us to stay updated on current events, engage in meaningful conversations, and form communities based on shared interests and causes.

We have broken geographical barriers and connected worldwide. By leveraging social media power, we can create a more connected and informed society.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 04,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1227]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Put your comments here

N.B: A submit button will appear once you fill out all the required fields.

Editors' Pick


Fortune news