The title seems fitting considering the buzz generated for today by 89 year-old pastor Harold Camping. As you probably know, Camping has raised millions of dollars in pursuit of enlightening the world that today the Rapture will occur, spurring the end of days. Whether you believe this prophecy or not, (his second apocalyptic prediction after a failed one in 1994) news outlets and avid social media users are neglecting the real story here: themselves.
There have been countless failed prophecies of the end of the world over the past hundreds of years. Why has this one, in 2011, gained so much publicity? Why is everyone updating their status/tweeting with either a Bible verse or some comedic, satirical allusion to the event (#endoftheworldconfessions and #myraptureplaylist are the two most trending topics on Twitter)? The same reason why those of us who think its completely ridiculous still have that minute thought in the back of our heads saying “what if?” – because we are bombarded with media, and the media has been bombarded with this story.
As globalization of the economies becomes more evident, so does the ease of communication. With over 500 million users on Facebook and 200+ million on Twitter, you can reach a global audience like never before. Yet there are some people out there who are still undervaluing the use of social media: politicians who run campaigns without it; businesses who doubt it’s effectiveness and in turn, neglect to use it; schools who still fail to adequately use it as a recruiting tool- the list goes on and on. And if an apocalyptic scare incited by an 89 year old preacher doesn’t convince you, the current turmoil in the Middle East should. The first of the uprisings and revolutions that occured this year (in Tunisia) arguably started on Facebook, and began a wave of revolts and wars across the region.
Finally I ask you to think of the progression of media. Those of you who can remember 20-30 years ago, (I cannot) think about how far technology, communication and media influence have come since then. Now think back even further to the early 1900s. One of the lessons that always stuck out to me came from my 9th grade journalism class taught by Carol Carrico. She taught us of one of first major influences of the media on foreign policy in Wm. Randolph Hearst’s incitement of the Spanish-American War- a war arguably started by a newspaper’s depiction of events abroad, most of which were fabricated (yellow journalism). My point is that in 100 years, wars have gone from being started by the media to being started by you and me via social media.
For those of you who haven’t bought into the Social Media BOOM (an excellent book by Jeffrey Gitomer): now is the time. We’re flooded with hundreds of messages everyday and if I haven’t seen yours, you’re not doing enough to broadcast it. Even those who want to be exempt from all these tweets, posts and pages will be hardpressed to shield themselves from social media as the mainstream media references it every night and morning on their respective programs and radio shows. If you don’t want to fall behind, take the time to get on board with technology. That said you can start by following me on Twitter @bigpaparay or @MUSGA and find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bigpaparay