Are Social Media Next Thing to Worship?
Smart is the new sexy, but sorry, hot girls and handsome boys are on Facebook, while you are in the lab.
According to one survey done in the US, almost 100% of lab managers admit to never having used Flickr, and over 80% hadn’t signed up for a Facebook account. By April, 2012, there had been 901 million active users on Facebook. That means, those scientists who had never been to Facebook, wasted a potential audience which could be a country with 3rd population in the world, just following India and China. Considering that Facebook is blocked in mainland China, they almost missed 1/3 of people in the world.
Why scientists should adopt social media. Is it that necessary? My answer is Yes! Based on a research in the US, only 28% of our population can pass a basic science literacy test with questions like “Does the Earth revolve around the sun?” or “Did modern humans live alongside dinosaurs?” Such results are unbelievable because we all know that we are living in a modern world. Most of us are educated and all the knowledge and technologies can be accessed everywhere. We can learn faster, easier, and in full-scale, but nothing will be changed until the information reaches us.
But what happens when scientists start to use the social media? In the article “How deep social network ‘roots’ help scientists communicate their research“, three scientists shared their stories about using social media to promote themselves and their projects. Here are some of their positive opinions:
- Social media help to find and be found by researchers in the same field.
- Social media are timeliness and able to connect far-flung researchers.
- Public are easier to be engaged.
- Social media can bring some positive side effects, such as funding.
- Having a well-cultivated and engaged circle of social media friends and followers can help expand the impact of your work
However, social network has its downfalls too. They are shortening our attention span. According to a study over the course of the last ten years, the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes. What does that mean to scientists is that if a scientific discovery is so hard, or put in a hard language that people cannot get the point in 5 minutes, it will be ignored.
Besides that, diminished privacy could cause plagiarism, and spreading of misinformation could also do negative impact in science communication.
So what do you think? When everybody is putting their faith in Facebook, Twitter, Google +, do you think that a scientist has to be one of them?