So who do you look up and listen to?

Well, to be honest, it’s more like who do you look up and read.

But yeah, that’s the thing.

Social media… so many topics and angles we can write about the pros and cons of social media. But there’s one thing that have been bothering my mind of late.

That credibility of opinions now is based on how many likes and how often a person talk about an issue, rather than experience and real case studies.

I was born in 1982. Meaning I am an 80’s child that grew up in the 90’s and stepped into the world when the world stepped into the millennium. I was that generation that was introduced to MTV, E! News, cable TVs, software engineering, hand-phones and computers. We were the Gen X border-lining with Gen Y, if the Gen terms are involved.

So growing up, I read the stories of my culture and social issues discussed, written and told by the likes of scholars such as Karim Raslan, Farish Noor, Amir Muhammad, Kam Raslan, Rehman Rashid. I read the Malay poetry emoted by Salleh ben Joned, A. Samad Said, Amir Hamzah, Usman Awang and slowly (really slowly) reading the archipelago literature works of Pramoedya Ananta Toer and Hamka.

We didn’t have social media back then.

And the works of these amazing authors, writers, artisans, social philosophers and anthropologists allowed us to view and reflect on our culture, roots and opinions on where we are heading or should head next. These people who on ground and experience life during times of war, reformation, and regeneration. It gives me great pride to be able to read their works, especially when it received accolades locally and internationally supported by grants from international bodies.

The youths of today does not read these works now, nor do they know or recognise these names. They read timelines. Twitter timelines. Tumblr timelines. Instagram timelines. Facebook timelines. These timelines are fed by words and opinions of their peers. So eventually they don’t really have to look out for credible sources of information. What people post on their social media has become a legit source of information, enough for them. Some will have the tendency to cross-check the legitimacy, only when they have doubts and slightly disagreement with that particular opinion.

The youths today read timelines.

It’s suffice to say that the youths today look no further than their own peers and timelines to have opinions thus validate each other’s credibility.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Peer influence is an amazing thing to explore, it’s comforting when one feel relate-able to a certain opinion or thoughts posed by another person within the same age range or school of thought (which usually are also from the same age range).

Does peer validation gives credibility?

Only through social media, it does. People don’t care anymore about how many degrees you have or how many years of experience you have in a subject matter. What people see is how many Retweets or Likes you have on your posts. This is an instant validation to what you have to say, regardless whether you are qualified or experience enough to say it.

I learned that I should not talk about things I know nothing of or I have yet to experience. So for me, I either quote someone (which means I really have to read a lot) or I have to experience it to give my point of view in it. Not through other people’s opinions that I feed off from my timeline.

In the wise words of one of the best female comics in history, Amy Poehler,

Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters you don’t know about. – Amy Poehler

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