Social Innovation and Change Term Paper

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The Social Media Age

A social change that I have experienced is the arrival of the Digital and Information Age, which has led to a revolution in the way people communication, obtain knowledge, and engage with ideas. Mainly the big change is the arrival of social media which has made everything private suddenly public. There is no more line between a private life and a public life. Everything is blurred together. People are less genuine and more interested in building their “brand” than in actually being human—because, after all, being human does not necessarily get one a million subscribers on YouTube. As Olsen (2013) notes, everything is “leading to a world that feels less personal, less polite and less human.” So while there have definitely been some good points about the Digital Era and the Information Age—such as the ability to now share information more easily than ever before, to obtain news one could not before, and to connect with people in seconds from anywhere in the world—there are negatives, too: as DiMaggio, Hargittai, Neuman and Robinson (2001) point out, social media tends to erect a real social wall between people and those around them while they pretend to have friendships online. The reality is displaced for the virtual. This is a negative because the reality is where social interaction needs to take place. The virtual is just fantasy while one sits in one’s room alone. True, the virtual world can lead to connections in the real world and facilitate organization—but this is not always the outcome—and sometimes the intense focus on social media can lead to negative outcomes for the individuals who fail to find online friendships fulfilling. For example, high school girl Sladjana Vidovic took her own life after being bullied incessantly online (Barr, 2010). So, yes, social change has come via the Internet—with both good and bad points.

My own life has improved thanks to the Digital Age, I have to say. I am not actively involved on social media, however.
I prefer real interactions with real people in face-to-face settings. I use my phone for work and texting and phone calls, but I do not use to obsessively get on social media. So I typically have my head up and am on the lookout for a friend to say hello to wherever I go. For the rest of society, I would have to say it is a toss-up. The satirists behind South Park recently did an episode entitled “Buddha Box” in which the population of South Park has anxiety because they just want to spend time with their phones and life (i.e., people) keep distracting them and upsetting them—so they all put what are essentially boxes over their heads that enable them to see their phone screen while they hold their phones in their hands. The boxes block out everything else except their phone. It essentially captures what has happened among a lot of young people: they all want to block out the real world via their mobile phones. So that is a huge negative. The one upside to it all, in the show, was that the new family that feared being ostracized for not being politically correct, was freer to act as a family and have fun since the whole town was no walking around with a big box over its head not paying any attention. So maybe traditional families will feel more empowered to get out into reality—who can say?


China’s Social Credit System is a social change that allows the Chinese government to give each citizen a credit score based on their behavior. If the citizen has a bad social credit….....

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DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Neuman, W. R. & Robinson, J. P. (2001). Social Implications of the Internet. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 307-336.

Olsen, M. (2013). \'The Bling Ring\' and the new American Dream. Retrieved from

Werth, E. (2018). Millions of Chinese Nationals Are Barred From Booking Flights Under the Social Credit System. Retrieved from

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