Welcome to the first ‘That’s My Opinion’ blog post! Over the next 5 weeks, I am excited to explore the digital impact on public opinions with you!  This week I want to ask…

Does social media change the way we think and form opinions? Does it make us question what we think we know?

The digital age has given the world a platform to express their opinions and thoughts on topics. Such as global affairs and topics in relevant in contemporary culture.

Through blogging platforms, normal people like us, have been able to reach new audiences far and wide.  Something that previous generations have never been able to do. Everyday people have been plucked from obscurity and been elevated to new heights and become ‘digital celebrities’ or ‘vloggers.’ Oxford dictionary online even added ‘Vlogger’ to its site.

These people pull in viewing figures that even the biggest tv shows could only imagine getting. And with so many ‘vloggers’ out there, you would struggle to not find at least one who interests you.

Vlogger, noun :

A person who regularly posts short videos to a vlog.

‘Craig has been a vlogger on YouTube since 2007’
‘the rise in popularity of beauty vloggers’.  (Oxford Dictionary, 2017)

Vlogging

Vlogging became popular in the early 2010s with trailblazers like ‘Zoella’ and ‘Shane Dawson’ becoming household names. Their subject matter varies from videos of their daily lives, challenges and beauty tutorials.

(Zoella, in a challenge video for her youtube channel)

Since then due to their popularity, and influence on their audiences, they have been able to monetize and make it their primary source of income.

In many ways, it has become a more refreshing way to be entertained as they are not bound by contracts that come with print or TV media and are just ‘normal people’. The fact that there is no production team allows for more freedom as they can discuss whatever they want.

This freedom means that they can talk about more ‘taboo’ subjects that wouldn’t be appropriate for TV. For instance, there were calls for TV personality Nick Knowles to be removed from I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, for discussing his belief that the moon landing was fake. Which highlighted how there are still issues that audiences would rather not be spoken about on tv.

Conspiracy theories

The conversation of conspiracy theories has become more popular on social media, as people are able to express their thoughts and share conspiracies.

Youtuber Shane Dawson often revolves his videos around conspiracy theories.  His channel which brags 19 million subscribers, is a platform for him to discuss these with his viewers. With 135 videos in the ‘Conspiracy Theories & Creepy Videos’ series, he talks about a range of famous and more obscure theories unbiased. And, his series has taken the online community by storm.

Shane Dawson’s series

Dawson explains theories such as The death of Princess Diana. 9/11 and the Illuminati to his viewers. He does also have light-hearted theories within the videos, such as exploring the controversy surrounding Britney and music producers controlling her voice.

Rating each one with a credibility scale, Dawson provokes thought amongst his audience. This makes views question whether what they are told is actually true, or if they need to treat it with more suspicion. In doing so he has led his viewers to scrutinize what they’re led to believe by powerful figures, provoking many conversations. As a result, Shane Dawson creates discourse between fans and himself. Using platforms such as Twitter/youtube comments to reply to fans and discuss their opinions. Creating this discourse is important, and with an average of 19 million views per month, it is clear he has a profound impact and relationship with his viewers.

Fake News

Digital culture has transformed the world. It has led to implications on how people perceive and consume texts. This has raised concern in society and created a new phrase, that is a personal favourite of Donald Trump: FAKE NEWS!

As a result of the digital age, a large amount of news is now sourced from social media, via both verified pages, and ‘eyewitnesses’ accounts. This is a large and increasing issue as more people, especially the younger generation consume their news through social media sites.

Social media can be extremely beneficial as it is live and rolling news. However,  live news can also cause confusion/ miseducation through the unfiltered and inaccuracies when reporting. Or, on the other hand, people make up fake stories/ statistics to gain media publicity.

Not only can inaccurate news be reported, but it can lead to large parts of society being misinformed/ brainwashed into believing false stories. This is evident in the fall out from the recent spate of terrorist attacks both in Europe and the USA. Far-right extremists groups are able to exploit the events into propaganda, therefore, misinforming and manipulate the masses. In turn, leading to hatred amongst groups in society.

In summary…

The digital age has allowed for a greater amount of freedom, both in thought and expression. However, it has had extremely negative impacts as a result of misuse by certain groups. Overall, like with anything, there are positives and negatives. But, it leaves the question: Is what we are being told actually true?

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you have enjoyed it and has made you question yourselves. Please feel free to leave a comment, or tweet me @_thatsmy0pinion and we can continue the discussion. Don’t forget to use the #TMO when tweeting as I will be checking and replying to all!

Check back next week for Blog post 2. But in the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas