The rise of Social Media has created a new phenomenon in our society. Yes, there have always been demagogues who attack leaders of groups, but their power was restricted to newspapers or magazines or books, hardly the source of a huge number of people. However, today, any ordinary person can transform self into a “hero” who is protecting American society agains this or that evil. On a minor level, one can make social media comments about a person you do not like. They respond, and soon others join in the conflict which in the past only included the people engaged in a conflict. Suddenly, hundreds, if not thousands, are commenting an vying to come across as significant participants in the debate. The Ebola story is simply another manifestation of how a problem has escalated into a national issue. Once again, as with climate change, those with knowledge, are cast aside because some jerk in North Dakota insists she really understands the spread of disease. Social Media has created the instant expert on any issue in life.
This process also can transform anyone into a victim. I decide to write something about Matt Damon. I simply make up an outrageous story about this actor, people respond, and I know for sure that hundreds will pick up my story as true and build on it. Within a few days, poor Matt is on the defense while his supporters now regard their hero as a victim of evil. This process goes on at the local level of young people in a school as well as public figures. Just say whatever comes into your mind, and within days you will have obtained a following of true believers.
Welcome to the world of social medcia!