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Ge 101 – Internet and Social Media - Strong and Weak Ties

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Conor Amick

Dunham Strand

GE 101 – Strong and Weak Ties

September 16, 2014

Strong and Weak Ties

        Social media and the Internet have become a main part of society and people cannot go anywhere without having to check some form of it. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; social media has become a new source for giving and receiving information. Not being involved in the weak-ties of the Internet can be costly, but being overly involved and reliant on it can be just as costly. Finding the balance is key in this media-centered culture that we live in.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an essay called “Small Change” which is about social change with the strong and weak ties of social media. Gladwell argues that strong-tie connections offer better opportunities for social change than weak-tie connections. This is confirmed by my personal experience with political advertisement this past summer. I was about to figure out that the Internet is not the only source of vital information. Not only would it be enlightenment on the subject of advertisement, it would become a life changing realization that strong ties do in fact have the best chance to create social change.

Being a new voter, there are some things that I need to start changing from my adolescence. One of those things is to stop ignoring that one annoying political campaign commercial, or the letters that begin showing up around election time. I learned this the hard way when an election came up and I did not know what was going on or what to do. I started to research the candidates, but to little avail. It was at a local parade, however, where I got “strong tie” advertisement.

        During the parade, I saw some of the candidates drive by. As I was walking around afterwards, I found that the candidates were having a mini Q&A. I got to listen to what they had to say rather than what the Internet said, and asked them questions on what I wanted to know. I walked away with a much greater understanding of what was going on. My experience completely agrees with Gladwell’s argument that strong-ties have greater possibilities for social change than weak-ties. Without the strong-ties I would have been in the dark with what little I learned from the weak-ties, the Internet and social media being the weak-ties and the candidates in this case of the strong-ties.

Some people would say that ads, including television, paper, and on the Internet, are all that you need to get to know the candidates well enough in order to vote for them. The only issue I have with this weak-tie way of getting information is that it leaves out truths and inserts lies. Alexandra Samuel puts this a great way in her essay, “Plug in Better”; “Unfortunately, when you attempt to address overload by completely unplugging, you also unplug from a lot of the resources that could help you set thoughtful boundaries around your working life.” What she is saying is that you may be able to get an idea who the person is, but there is so much left out and/or added about them. While this does say that you need weak-ties, it also means that you need a strong-tie connection of something other than the Internet.

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