I found out about the Zimmerman trial verdict through Twitter. I’ve learned a good chunk of my news from social media recently. There was an explosion of emotional tweets last night after the announcement of the not guilty verdict. The majority of the tweets were of outrage, expressing intense disappointment with the verdict. I don’t really want to comment on the trial (that’s been done quite a bit already). Personally, I’ve always been reluctant to post my political/religious/emotional thoughts on social media. What I am fascinated by is the way people have taken to social media to express so many intense emotions like anger, happiness, or sadness. Recently, tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing, the Newtown shooting, and the disaster of Hurricane Sandy have inspired tweets and Facebook posts that have raised money, served as first-hand accounts, pushed forward legislation, and offered comfort to survivors. Yet, with the Zimmerman trial the response is very angry and sometimes hostile. Two popular hashtags about the trial demonstrates the strength of these responses: #justicefortrayvon and #ifieverseezimmerman.
The outrage or joy people feel and express after highly publicized trials is nothing new.Recall the trials of O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. However, what is new is the speed of the news, the quickness that emotional responses can be shared, and the collective passion that social media seems to propel. How much of this is the citizen journalism described by Bruns (2007)? Looking at the Zimmerman trial, Twitter and Facebook users are serving as commenters, recalling (for me) the op-ed sections of newspapers. As Bruns notes, citizen journalism “better resembles a conversation rather than a lecture.” (p. 2). This is particularly true in cases like the Zimmerman Trial. Major news organization have less control over how information is shared and interpreted, less ability to lecture. Social media users are sometimes play the journalist role first hand, One example is the minute by minute social updates during the Boston Marathon bombing. Users of social media have the technology capabilities to report events and experiences in an intensely powerful, emotional, and moving manner. These reports are not always accurate, but for the most part they are heartfelt. I’m not sure how traditional media can compete with the honesty and purity of the social media response.
Some readings of interest:
Bruns, A. (2007). Prousage: Towards a broader framework for user-led content creation. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & cognition, 99-106.
*originally posted in my blog for EME 6414 Web 2.0 Learning