Authority Figures and the Social Media World

Authority and the Social Media World

It may have been said best by Bertrand de Jouvenel:
“The phenomenon called authority is at once more ancient and more fundamental than the phenomenon called state; the natural ascendancy of some men over others is the principle of all human organizations and all human advances.”

All societies operate on the concept of authority; as some figure or body of government has the ability and power deliver punishment on individual(s). Since the Roman civilization, authority is used as a deterrence and an instrument of justice; punishing those that break the laws of a society. In contemporary society as it relates to the rule of law, an authority figure would be law enforcement, military, intelligence services – and as we have seen in certain countries, the use of power in punishing others can be very relenting, and even the legitimacy in the authority figures and its ideology can be questioned and revolted by a society (i.e. Iran). However, without a body to enforce the rules and order of a society, then chaos is sure to arise as man can not govern itself freely. There are several differing types of authority according to German Max Weber, they are Rational-legal, traditional, and charismatic.

Social Media Urban Context

“Modern societies depend on legal-rational authority. Government officials are the best example of this form of authority, which is prevalent all over the world.”, however this type of authority is not respected much by the growing industry of ‘Social Media’, as governments find it increasingly difficult to regulate the Internet – the most prime example is the government in Iran who have failed to block certain social media sites; as the people in that country have used technology, specifically the use of IP Proxies, to get around the government crackdown. In Western countries, governments try to establish rules and laws, however much of the enforcement is scattered and not effective as there are many socially unacceptable sites dealing with underage exploits.

Traditional authority, which derives from long-established customs, habits and social structures. When power passes from one generation to another, then it is known as traditional authority”, as it relates to social media, this is a toss-up: on the one hand it seems that the Internet community on a whole has some group personality traits; groups will isolate those that don’t fit their site ideology, and sometimes delivering disparaging comments will make one very popular. So it can be said that the customs that we develop in the tangible world are being transferred to online interactions. However, the argument can be made that the sense of anonymity and impersonal nature of what the Internet provides, has created a crude and rude culture – that has always existed in the physical world, but the Internet has exacerbated such attitudes into behaviors.

Charismatic authority is that authority which is derived from “the gift of grace” or when the leader claims that his authority is derived from a “higher power” (e.g. God or natural law or rights) or “inspiration”, that is superior to both the validity of traditional and rational-legal authority and followers accept this and are willing to follow this higher or inspired authority, in the place of the authority that they have hitherto been following. Some of the most prominent examples of charismatic authority can be politicians or leaders, who come from a movie or entertainment background”, couldn’t have been said any better. In this social media realm, many are titled an ‘authority figure’ just on their ‘swag’, their ‘charisma’. This is a falsity, and should be corrected as many people are being handed the magic wand of ‘authority’ when they have no real power other than their popularity – which in some cases can be very powerful in influencing masses. However, they can not really ‘punish’ people other through isolating other people – which can be just as damaging psychologically as a physical blow can be.

The follow-up to this will be a highlight of such ‘authority figures’ … hopefully it will teach us whom has the real power, and whom is just faking it!

.:: LiBM ::.

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