THEY SAY THE SITUATION HAS CHANGED IN THE COUNTRY. WHAT WAS THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN IT?
A year has passed since the Armenian velvet revolution. In one sentence we state a reality, for which many countries struggle for years․ While the most important aspect here is not even the revolution, but the fact that it was a peaceful process and took place without violence and victims. Armenian revolution became a brand and was named the revolution of love and tolerance. These events in Armenia caught the attention of international media as well. From the point of view of PR and communication, this revolution is associated with a new reality, victory of citizens, power of the nation, peaceful process, love, and tolerance. By the way, these are the main messages used and spread by the leader of revolution Nikol Pashinyan.
We used to say in Armenia, that we live in a new reality now
To say that media, esp. social media had a great role in it, is to say nothing. There is no need to list and to talk about the famous Telegram channel, Facebook events, and publications, as the technical analysis of used means of communication is not our purpose in this article. The example of this revolution comes to show us that in our everyday life we rarely think about media transformations, the role, and significance of social media in our daily life. We don’t always follow ongoing events and the most important, we don’t do the reflections and analysis of the factors that influence our decisions.
Along with traditional media, social media became the main platform for generating and consuming information. At the same time, active users of social media platforms or digital influencers shape a general atmosphere and impact on the public opinion․
Nikol Pashinyan is one of those influential figures, who, using Facebook live videos as the main information tool, made a revolution. But what if he decided to spread and to make a revolution of hatred and intolerance instead of the revolution of love and solidarity? Would he succeed as well? Of course, this comparison is too extreme in order to show how powerful is social media as a communication tool for leaders. It goes without saying that leader’s image, political context, branding of the event, socio-psychological state of the country and citizens and other factors are of great importance too.
The above-mentioned topics are for political analysts, while we are discussing the mechanisms of information dissemination and the power of media.
The example of revolution in Armenia of the previous year shows that, while speaking about media, we cannot consider traditional and social media, journalists, editors, bloggers, and social media influencers separately. All of them are united by the power of influence on people through information.
All current challenges of media landscape; i.e. fighting against misinformation, the formation of media literacy and quality content for the audience and many other questions, equally refer to both mass media and social media.
What do mass media specialists, journalists, and social media influencers think about this?
It seems that Armenian journalists are not willing to listen to media criticism, as each media considers itself professional, and points out other media representatives who spoil the field. Sometimes even criticism of media is considered to be a personal offense (just remember the reactions of the status of Prime Minister’s wife Anna Hakobyan on the improvement of journalists’ professional qualities).
Such approach of media representatives is surprising, as, in every sphere, we are responsible for the development of the certain field and formation of a qualitative working environment. Otherwise, it is always easier to be the best among the worst. Nowadays all media transformations are not properly discussed in Armenian media or academic field. Hence, questions arise, do social media influencers in Armenia, who have a large number of followers, realize that they are along with journalists equally responsible for their shared content?
Do the journalists cooperate with social media influencers, besides copying their statuses in their media outlets? These are questions, which need to be discussed both by social media influencers, journalists and media specialists. After all, media does not only belong to journalists anymore, it belongs to society as well.
About power and responsibility
How the future of Armenia looks like? Will a new leader come and make a new revolution, or current leader Nikol Pashinyan will continue to enjoy people’s sympathy and will be able to lead the state towards prosperity? Maybe we will be the happiest generation to see how Armenia goes out of war, blockade and economic crisis and enters the phase of prosperity. It depends not only on the current government but also on all of us, i.e. it depends on every journalist, status writer, and every status reader. Apparently, qualitative changes are needed in the media field, be it in the form of state and legislation regulations, or in the active form of work and ethical regulations with audience and influencers.
Working with the same approaches and not realizing all the media transformations is like going with the flow.
A superhero of the favorite comics says “With the great power comes great responsibility”, but it seems that current media does not properly realize the level of power and responsibility.