What does a British gangster have to do with social media movements?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But Tommy Shelby is one of the most fascinating characters in television today. He’s a man who comes from nothing, but his drive and ambition has led him to become one of the most formidable people in all of television. For the purpose of this blog, I will adopt his name as my pseudonym. I consider myself ambitious in many ways, although my goals may or may not align with Mr. Shelby’s.

In any case, I am undoubtedly excited to take a course as practical as this. I think applicable and up-to-date courses like these are something that Berkeley is very unique at providing. Whether its DeCals or the CS program constantly changing and adapting, Berkeley definitely doesn’t seem to shy away from the present or the future. And I think the existence of this course resonates quite well with the preeminent theme throughout social media movements: a lack of bias or regard for tradition and the past. Traditions, the past, status quo — whatever you may want to call it — are all synonyms for a lack of progress. Social media movements tend to change that while directly handing the speakerphone to anyone and everyone.

Obviously with such great power come great risks. Whether it’s witchhunts, a mob mentality, groupthink, or an echo chamber, it’s clear that social media movements may be forsaking progress in the guise of equality and democratization. These dangers have manifested themselves in the rise of terrorist groups, an increasingly PC culture, and much more. Thus, it is also clear that the power bequeathed to the masses by social media may lead to utilization of that power in ways that undermine the foundation of democracy, and equality as a whole.

Well. As with any sort of power, whether it’s the sort that Tommy Shelby controls in 1920s London or the power that social media has given everyone, one must analyze, understand, and think of how to best limit it for negative uses while amplifying it for positive uses. By no means is that an easy task, but the key here is to understand social media, the movements, the drivers and motives of the different stakeholders, and how they fit into your own personal ethics and values. No one will agree on a certain issue or topic, and no one should. But we should all be able to understand, dissect, and form an opinion ourselves. Thus, I believe this class will strengthen our argumentative, persuasive, and critical thinking skills, as well as educating us on the recent phenomenon of the tremendous power of social media movements. For that reason, I am here and hope to enjoy this ride with the rest of you.

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