Many libertarians believe social media is a scourge and will reduce populations to mindless hordes of zombies incapable of rational thought.
Social media does have the power to hypnotize and sedate, but it can also be used for revolution.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and other forms of social media have demonstrated the enormous value of content in the Digital Age.
According to Oberlo, the average rate of digital media consumption in 2020 was a staggering 474 minutes per day in the United States. (Almost 8 hours). In 2022, that number increased to 494 minutes per day.
Make no mistake about it; Americans are hooked on social media. And it looks like content consumption is here to stay, with the number of hours spent on digital media increasing yearly.
Can Social Media be Used for Revolution?
Before the internet's commercialization, spreading political material relied on publishing houses, independent print companies, zines, radio, television, music, public assembly and word of mouth.
Most information came from mainstream media via television, radio and printed newspapers. Even grassroots political movements often relied on corporate media attention to blossom.
The average American voice was largely unheard. Unpopular, provocative or controversial political ideas rarely spread beyond the street corner soap box.
But that has changed tremendously.
Today, mainstream media has hired staff to analyze social media to catch developing and viral stories. While journalists still sift through press releases to write articles for news publications, the shift toward social media observance is one to consider.
The organic virality of a video captured on a smartphone and uploaded to social media by an average person can far exceed the distribution rate of carefully crafted corporate media content. Media companies often pay regular citizens for exclusive rights to their photographs or videos.
In the Myspace days, social media was a revolutionary way for young people to stay connected with their friends (I remember it well). Facebook, in its infancy, required a .edu extension on your email to sign up. College kids used it to mass circulate party invitations and show pictures of their drunk buddies passed out by the pool, covered in marker with random things stacked on them.
Social media was social. But it didn't take long for thought leaders, politicians, political campaigners, churches, businesses and charitable organizations to see the enormous potential of social media. Subsequently, social media took a new form. It became the modern-day town square, capable of spreading independent news and mass communication.
The impact of social media on social movements and public opinion formation is unmistakable. The world has changed because of social media's mass marketing of liberal and progressive ideas to a ripe audience.
In protest, many conservatives, freethinkers and libertarians have gone radio silent. They're unplugging from social media, refusing to contribute to big tech companies that wish to censor and control information.
Libertarians shouldn't give up on social media, even if they are, indeed, being censored or shadowbanned.
Unplugging from social media isn't the best way to create a market demand to create new platforms. Voicing opposition and criticism toward companies with lopsided policies that negatively affect libertarian voices is imperative to creating new social media companies to compete in the marketplace.
Facebook, YouTube and other progressive companies are not ubiquitously social media. Other companies have been developed to compete against their dominance, and they will continue to grow.
Despite its valid criticisms and shortcomings, social media has the potential to build community and expand the liberty movement. Libertarians can employ social media to their advantage, reaching disaffected liberals and conservatives, independents, and other people who are tired of the status quo.
With social media, we can continue to spread ideas and principles that reflect the tenets and philosophy of libertarianism. Social media isn't just for "woke liberals." We shouldn't run from the fight because we're outnumbered or mistreated. We should fight harder.
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