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1 Essay outline : Social media gives rise to conflict. Do you agree ?

Introduction : (1) Unlike many young people today, their parents, teachers and most adults they know grew up in the time before the internet and before the era of social media. (2) Those who are suspicious of social media point out how this technology seems to be some kind of Pandoras Box that gives rise to the panoply of conflicts spilling out from the virtual world into real life. (3) They have good reason for this because the nature of social media lends itself to engendering and perpetuating discord or dissent. (4) This is not to say that the opposite that social media promotes togetherness or harmony does not happen. (5) However, due to overwhelming evidence, the existence of such positive outcomes are insufficient to invalidate the assertion that social media triggers conflict.

BP 1 : (1) Social media rallies the like-minded, for better or for worse. (2) It is without a doubt that so many positive missions have been promoted via social media. (3) These causes call for people to set aside their differences and work towards a good goal. (4) However, any cause that is worthwhile will face opposition, online and offline. (4) Conflict becomes inevitable, and it is social media that has facilitated this. ---------- add examples here (environmentalism, human rights etc.) ---------(5) It is also possible for the cause itself to also be genuinely malicious. (6) Then, social media could be misused to instigate and spread conflict. ---------- add examples here (terrorism, racism etc.) ----------

BP 2 : (1) Social media also gives rise to conflict because it is seen as the alternative to mainstream media and a viable outlet for political dissidence that would otherwise be suppressed. (2) Mainstream media is often known to be controlled either by the government or large media corporations. (3) On the other hand, social media is synonymous with freedom of expression which is buttressed, to some extent, by the twin pillars of the internet : anonymity and impunity. (4) Views that are antiestablishment find release in cyberspace because censorship, editing and filtering are far less rigorous than on mainstream outlets. (5) These ideas often start as seemingly benign, casual, personal thoughts, no different from the thinking aloud that other people do online for a cornucopia of topics ranging from their relationship problems to celebrity gossip. (6) Numerous likes, favourites and shares later, the anti-government perspective picks up steam and becomes a potentially formidable force for the State to reckon

2 with. ---------- add examples here (Arab Spring, Iranian elections, China, Singapore etc.) ----------

BP 3 : (1) To add fuel to the fire, any attempt at restricting social media also becomes a flashpoint because netizens do not want to lose their new-found liberty. ---------- add examples here (CISPA in the US, Free My Internet movement in Sg etc.) ----------

BP 4 : (1) Having said the above, anti-government views on social media creates constructive conflict and tries to take discourse to another level. (2) This happens when the government is compelled to engage its detractors more directly on social media platforms, or better yet, beat them at their own game. (3) While it does seem like the government is stirring up the hornets nest, this is a necessary evil for the government to draw out the criticisms from the ground that it can address to improve its relationship with the people and the lives of the people it is responsible for. ---------- add examples here (PM Lees FB page etc.) ----------

BP 5 : (1) Another problem with social media is this : there is so much insensitivity and hypersensitivity that conflict becomes the corollary of many online exchanges. (2) The insensitivity that is rife among social media users is a result of perceiving social media as the ideal channel for emotional catharsis. (3) It is not. (4) The erroneous assumption often made is that everyone else is just using this platform to vent their feelings. (4) Thus, many expect others to see that ill-will is not intended and users are capable of understanding another persons actual message, even though it may be embellished with digressions, merely subjective support, randomness, broken language or the occasional expletive. (5) Put another way, conflict comes about when netizens communicate with others without the benefit of knowing the other persons background well or appreciating the full context of his views, or having a long enough time to engage him to find a meaningful closure to the online chat. (6) Keyboard warriors write as if they are talking face-to-face with someone they know. (7) But they are not. (8) Often, short exchanges turn into misunderstandings aggravated by unsavoury outbursts, or incidences of trolling, meaning repeated online harassment. (9) Worse, some cases degenerate into a flame war, personal

3 attacks and counter attacks waiting to reach its tipping point. ---------- add examples here ----------

BP 6 : (1) In addition, the viral nature of social media makes it a hotbed for conflict because it is hard to retract any harmful messaging that has been disseminated. (2) It is easy to distort a message just by changing the words in an attempt to meet a word limit that has been set or to make the message catchier. (3) Many people also attach a little comment of their own when they share other stories which could have an impact on how the next set of readers view the stories. (4) Altered versions of the original message or story can sow the seeds of distrust and unhappiness between different parties. ---------- add example here (PSI readings issue etc.) ----------

Conclusion : (1) In conclusion, social media is not for the faint-hearted. (2) With such a cacophony of viewpoints, conflict is to be expected. (3) How the conflict is played out is dependent on many factors especially the maturity and civility of the users. (4) As such, netiquette is a must when using social media for order to prevail despite conflict. (5) Every society can do more to prepare its members to make the best use of this phenomenal development.