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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds So I think social media for students is pretty much continuous now, so most students will have some kind of social media platform on their phones; on their ipads; on their computers; and that is a really good uniting front. So if we look at things like the global communities that

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 seconds seem to be cropping up: so for example, if you’ve got an issue that you are particularly interested in, it might be that someone halfway across the world is interested in the same issue and that’s a discussion that you wouldn’t have been able to have a few years ago. And it’s pretty great because there are so many platforms on which you can discuss that. Whether that’s on Instagram and Tumblr and the more kind of casual forms and creative forms of social media, right through to Skype calls and things like that.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds So there are loads of opportunities to get in contact and build on that global community, and also have multi-way conversations, so it doesn’t just have to be between two people, but you can build that out. I also think that students find it very empowering and uniting to be able to have all the information at the touch of a button, if you like. So I think that’s really positive. And then there’s also… social media has got this fantastic capacity to create a mass movement.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds How it does it I don’t quite know, but essentially if there is something that you’re interested in, or you want to get people hooked on, or you think is really important, then its very easy for that to spiral and snowball and access the ultimate amount of people possible. So yeah I think all of that brings different people from different backgrounds together and unites them under common aims which is really cool.

Social media as a uniting force

The internet, and social media in particular, has broken down tremendous boundaries.

Once, if we wanted to talk to someone at the other side of the world, we would probably do it through a pen-pal scheme. Conversation would be a slow process. We could perhaps make an international telephone call, but that would be terribly expensive. Now we can (and do) engage in live chat, send photographs and other media to each other, even talk by Skype: global friendships and global relationships have become a real, present, instantaneous thing. Many of us are now genuinely engaging in a global community (or at the very least an anglophone global community - the Tower of Babel has not quite been rebuilt, although translation systems become more advanced by the year). In this video, the University of York’s Students’ Union President, Millie Beach, considers the uniting influence of social media and its benefit to students in particular.

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This video is from the free online course:

Becoming a Digital Citizen: an Introduction to the Digital Society

University of York