I, along with most of Canada, was appalled at the Vancouver Riots after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup final. However, in the midst of my disgust, I was fascinated by the events that were unfolding in the national news coverage as I witnessed the masses capturing the riots via smart phones and sharing them on social media. In the midst of breaking the law, the rioters and looters activities were being passively encouraged by the riot onlookers who stayed to witnesses and record these events. At the same time my eyes were witnessing this spectacle, I was listening to the commentary of the new’s channel reporters who, along with myself, were shocked and appalled by the hundred of onlookers who were, at the very least, recording and witnessing the destructive behaviour while all along recording it on their electronic devices.
Part of what was most shocking and ironic to me was the contrast between the new’s reporters commentary of the appalling behaviour of those who were witnessing and recoding the events and the deluge of ads the same new’s channel constantly run encouraging people to be iReporters – in essence, to do the very things that they were appalled at.
Our culture has radically shifted because of smart phones and social media. The human condition is still the same but technology (as it always been since the Tower of Babel) has found a new outlet of expression. Every piece of technology created alters our social construct and our culture and social media technology is no different. The same technology that was used to bring down oppressive regimes by putting power in the hands of the oppressed is also used to help organize riots and public looting. The same technology that stirred a crowd to act foolishly will be used, in the end, to bring justice.
Technology is not a passive force in our world, culture or social constructs.