Facebook Nation

When social media meets international politics, fireworks doubtless ensue. Although it may be uncomfortable for some to watch, it’s yet another sign that these tools are fast becoming a mainstream means of interaction and communication — and another sign that we need to get serious about how we use them.

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, Facebook was a simple Web-based service that allowed Harvard students to get to know each other a little better. Since escaping from the halls of its Ivy League birthplace, Facebook has become infinitely more than that. With 300 million users across the globe — and counting — it’s a country in and of itself, a virtual ecosystem where the conflicts of the greater world play out in mostly blue, black and white hues and in dozens of languages.

The Virtual World Meets the Real One

And how it plays out is — like the real world its users occupy when they’re not updating their status or uploading pictures from their smart phones — not always pretty. Ongoing skirmishes over whether the Golan Heights are part of Israel or Syria, who owns the Kashmir region and whether or not Tibet’s capital Lhasa is considered part of China continue to illustrate social media’s ability to mirror broader society.

This isn’t necessarily a negative trend. The fact that we can even have this level of interaction on what was once little more than a simple online bulletin board is a sign of social media’s growing…



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