I have been known to be a detractor of social media. I think its time for me to say something on the other side of the argument also.
In a society that constantly asks its members to play roles that are passed down from generation to generation, mobility within roles is always a problem. This applies to the work/career, hobbies/profession, course of study/skill and gender roles that are well defined. In such a society, it is not a surprise that people use the online world to discover themselves. Creating avatars, escaping and pushing the boundaries of what they are allowed to do in the “real world”.
People are shouting out about issues where they were told to shut up. The “twitter wali quam” (twitter nation) are pushing the envelope about what can be discussed and what cant. There is no carpet anymore to hide issues under, and everything can be brought into the public eye through social media.
The assumed avatars of the online world, are becoming more and more like the real constrained self’s that have been bottled up for so long.
As a tool of radical transparency, social media is opening up a can of worms. Change is happening. Its only a matter of time before traditional societies have to face radical change because the online avatars will become “real”. Occupy will take on a new meaning – the virtual will occupy the real.
As can be seen, the countries on the left are all “South” Developing countries, who are using social media in higher percentages than the Developed world on the right. It is obvious the South is ripe for radical transformation.