Kahn-Kellner: The Facebook Phenomenon

Kahn and Kellner's Oppositional Politics and the Internet: The Facebook Phenomenon

According to Kahn and Kellner, “some critics claim that the internet is producing a cyberbalkanization of “daily me” news feeds and fragmented communities, while other theorists like Jodi Dean have argued that the internet might appropriately be likened to the circulation of noise and effectless content in a new stage of “communicative capitalism”.”

In our generation today, Facebook has evolved from being a mere social network to a massive phenomenon influencing politics, culture and the economy. One specific example would be the Virginia Tech massacre that happened a few years ago. During the ordeal, Virginia Tech students used Facebook as a bulletin board to communicate with classmates, friends and families to let them know if they were safe from harm. Due to the 236 Virginia Tech related groups on Facebook, people were quickly updated on the tragedy that killed 32 people. According to Dr. Jeannette Sutton of Colorado University Boulder’s Natural Disaster Center, "People who were distributed across these networks were able to identify all of the names of the deceased before the official announcement came out about who was deceased." Disaster organizations such as Red Cross and FEMA have not only publicized their services on Facebook but have also turned to the site as a source for updates regarding disasters occurring around the country. The link below shows a video clip on how Facebook and Twitter could save lives in times of disaster situations.


To further elaborate on how Facebook has been revolutionizing the world today, Obama's campaign is a prime example of how he used the social network to promote his candidacy. According to reports, Facebook received $467,000 from the Obama campaign. A lot of speculators have said that Facebook played a pivotal role in leading Obama to win the presidential election. This goes to show how powerful and widespread Facebook is on modern society and even politics. Based on The Wall Street Journal, this interactive graphic below shows statistics indicating the popularity of the candidates on blogs and sites such as YouTube and Facebook.


Source: http://megroberts.wordpress.com/page/2/

In terms of economics and marketing strategies, a lot of companies and brands have used Facebook to implement viral advertising techniques. In a recent Vitamin Water campaign shown on CBS, the brand advertised their Facebook profile instead of their official website. This shows how publicly recognizable Facebook is that it has almost become a household name.


Source: http://www.allfacebook.com/images/vitaminwater.gif

According to Kahn and Kellner, "Howard Dean's use of the internet showed that it could generate political enthusiasm amongst the youth, connect people around issues, and articulate with struggles in the real world. The Dean experiment demonstrated that internet politics was not just a matter of circulating discourse in a self-contained cybersphere but a force that could intervene in the political battles of the contemporary media culture" With regard to this statement, Facebook has become a setting for individuals to voice out their ideologies and political preferences. From environmental activists to anti-Obama protesters; the seemingly endless variety of subcultures within Facebook shows how it has become sort of a melting pot of diverse personalities, corporate advertising and socio-political advocates.

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Sources: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?sid=9b0e0986021c7889939d671801008307&gid=60626416216

In conclusion, the present culture is clearly showing a growing reliance on the internet; more specifically on social networking sites such as Facebook. In a positive aspect, it pushes globalization to a whole new degree since it allows people to gain access to different cultures through the different applications, friends and groups. Moreover, it gives people options on which stance or beliefs to take, making them choose how they want to be recognized in the cyberworld. However, in a more cynical context, Facebook merely symbolizes a "mirage culture", which may not necessarily translate into real action or conviction. For those people who say that they are pro-Green, how many of them really make the effort to recycle and save gas? The point here is that it is so easy to pick out a cause or an activist group and immediately become part of it in an instant. But in reality, is it really that simple? Nowadays, the internet seems to make everything accessible in just a click of a button. What people need to realize though is that we cannot simply join the bandwagon and believe that we are a part of something just because we have been "accepted to the group." We should remember that being a part of a cause or any particular group means taking action and standing firm on those beliefs. And it isn't just about Superpoking or throwing gifts at our online friends, no matter how much fun and addicting it is.

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