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Social Media: The Hidden Labor

Social Media: The Hidden Labor

The rise of the Internet has allowed for near instantaneous communication throughout the world. Just like any other form of communications, the internet allows for the spread of ideas and values between groups. In some ways, social media is a concentrated form of this. Designed for people to connect with one another and discuss their personal lives, political views, religious values, etc. These well-known sites like www.facebook.com and www.twitter.com are typically free to use, and while there are systems to track “likes” and “retweets”, one cannot make money from these things. However, there is still labor to be done on these sites.

First, let us look at the definition of labor. Labor: expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/labor). There is a significant amount of mental effort to be done in combating racism and misogyny found on social media, and even the rest of the internet. This is a slow drawn-out labor, as the fact is that a single social media conversation rarely, if ever, changes someone’s mind.

However, projects which raise awareness of these issues on social media platforms are an important step to hopefully educating and reforming those who still hold these views. Some platforms, such as Reddit, even have moderator positions that give power of comments and posts that people make, and allow them to remove racially insensitive posts, among others. People spend hours of their time moderating online conversations that they often are not even participating in. This is certainly a form of labor that has come into being with the internet. However, it is an imperfect system. If a moderator holds insensitive or controversial views, then there is often nobody to moderate that moderator. That is one of the reasons why it is important for there to be continuing dialogue going forward in order to raise awareness for these issues and to eventually move past them. 

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