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Is Social Media Now More Powerful Than Literature?

The importance of online social networks

There is no doubt that social media has had an enormous impact on society as a whole, and has been responsible for change on a social level, but is the networking field now leaving traditional and modern Literature in the shadows?

social media and Literature
Source: ingridkoehler.com

Social media is easy. Anyone can use it and the networking possibilities are almost endless. This is on a fundamentally personal level, as people generally use the social media sites to get in contact with family and friends, and also arrange leisure activities. On a macro level, social media is a powerful force, that can do a lot of damage, and this has been seen politically in recent times. The London riots of 2011 would not have been so widespread if it weren’t for the use of social media, as many protesters were using the likes of Twitter and Facebook to communicate and rendezvous before launching an attack on London. This ensured that they had the upper hand over the police force, and all because they utilised social media. The state have also used it to their advantage though, with many elections being won and lost due to the power of their social media campaigns. American President Barack Obama has been excellent at connecting with the virtual world in order to generate more support.

The nature of social media places it as a direct competitor where Literature is concerned, and there are many arguments to say that it is even replacing Literature as a form of political and persuasive speech. The social media model is based on that of Literature as it is designed for people to have a fair say, and this was the case for poets such as Lady Mary Roth and Aemilia Lanyer, who spoke out for women during the Renaissance period, which was dominated heavily by male ideology. This type of text is now displayed on sites such as Twitter and Facebook as it reaches such a wide audience, and many modern feminist movements have taken their manifestos online in order to reach out to all classes.

It is not just conflict pieces that have been transferred to the virtual world though. The beauty of the natural world is now preferred to been seen online as opposed to being read in a descriptive piece of writing. If you go onto your Instagram feed, you are likely to see the obligatory morning sunset picture posted by one of your predictable followers, but once upon a time this was all put into writing. Pioneers of this were the writers of the Romantic period who embraced nature as opposed to traditional educational forms. The likes of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (The Lake Poets) lead this movement, and inspired many others to use the natural world to speak about other subjects such as sexuality, opium abuse, and political unrest. These poets are almost forgotten about in today’s mainstream media as everything is now already there without the requirement of using any imagination at all.

social media and Literature
Source: thesundaytimes.co.uk

The times have changed, and they have changed dramatically. Gone are the days where inspiration was the product of a mind manipulated by a muse, but now we have Facebook posts to steer us in certain directions, and tweets to tell us how we should feel whilst making sure you don’t stretch your mind beyond the 140 character limit. The reason for this is culture. Culture has shifted throughout the years, and we have landed in a place called high modernity, where everyone wants his or her share now! This has its benefits, but it also has its negatives. The positive effects come in the form of life standard, as with high modernity comes an accelerated mode of capitalism where a great deal of people can live comfortable lives and only worry about whether they will be able to afford the 9th generation iPad. The negative is that there are still many in poverty, and the classic forms of communication and education are being forgotten about.

Literature is now a niche hobby and subject in the year 2014, and although sales of many genres are up, they sit in accordance with the popular topics of today’s culture. We are losing grasp of what the classics were about, and the inspiration they provided to millions, but on the flip side, we have been gifted a tool that connects us with different cultures all over the world.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Is Social Media Now More Powerful Than Literature? Reviewed by Alex Smith on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 Rating: 5
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