SONGSOPTOK : The internet revolution has deeply impacted our modern society that can be compared to the discovery of electricity. Today we can’t think of the internet without the social media. When and how did you first discover the social media?
DEBORAH PALMER:  Around 2008. At first I had an account on MySpace which is now defunct, and then I moved onto Facebook.

SONGSOPTOK : As far as interpersonal relationships are concerned, the power of the social media today is undeniable, allowing us to communicate in real time across the globe. What is your opinion about this? What are its advantages & disadvantages?
DEBORAH PALMER: Advantages are making friends across the globe. Spreading and sharing ideas with people from around the world. One can also rally people to a cause. The disadvantages are that unfortunately sometimes what we write can be taken the wrong way resulting in offending another person.

SONGSOPTOK : We have noticed that social media has become a powerful vector for personal expression and creativity, because we no longer need the approval or approbation to publish. Our creativity has found a new channel for addressing a global audience. What is your opinion about this?
DEBORAH PALMER:    I think that it is a great idea. It opens the door to people who would otherwise be locked out of the publishing process.  You never know who is reading your blog and perhaps if you get a greater audience with the right people you can promote and market your work worldwide. The issue that crops up is validity and market saturation. Most people still believe that only hardcopy published books have true value.

SONGSOPTOK : In this context, it is also true that any and everybody today can claim to be a writer, a poet, or an artist on any number of social media. We no longer have a standard for appreciating true talent – a role that was played by editors or different types of experts. What is you point of view? Do you think that the power of social media have served to create more charlatans than proper artists?
DEBORAH PALMER:    I think social media gives everyone an opportunity to publish but then again not everyone has talent as a writer. I do realize that writing and art can be subjective, especially art but as far as writing goes one needs a natural talent that can be developed over time with training by professionals in the writing field. I would say that as far as publishing there is an over-saturation in some genres plus new and upcoming authors do not have the mentors they need to master their craft. Take the Vampire/Zombie popularity. Everyone has jumped on that bandwagon including myself, but over the last few years I’ve read the work of new authors usually online work and they skipped the much needed procedures of proofreading and editing!  Grammar counts!  A storyline filled with old hack worn out clichés is no fun to read nor does it help the story progress.  

SONGSOPTOK : Would you say that the social media has contributed to bringing societies and cultures across the globe closer? If not, what can be done to make it a more powerful tool?
DEBORAH PALMER:    In my experience I have gotten to know many people from many countries around the world and we do share experiences but on the other hand sadly social media gives bigots, racists, and the narrow-mined a forum to spread their messages of hate and bias. Facebook is a prime example of this. I have stopped posting on the FB poetry groups because the administrators fail to reign on people who make racist or sexist comments. I decided it was not worth my time or efforts to battle with folks whose minds are back in the 19th Century.

SONGSOPTOK : Would you say that in general the users of social media are actually aware of its potential, both in the positive and negative sense? In other words, do you think that the average user is aware of the possible reach of social media and the consequences it may have? What is your own experience?
DEBORAH PALMER:    I think most users only see it on the small scale. I suppose it depends on how much time one spends on social media. I know for a fact that it can get you in trouble and ruin friendships but if used properly social media can promote and give voice to various social causes. 

SONGSOPTOK : Social media is often considered to be a true reflection of human society. What is your opinion? How would you evaluate the image you see today in the context of the society you live in? How true or false is the reflection?
DEBORAH PALMER:    Yes. Social media is a microcosm of the greater society.

SONGSOPTOK : The advent and the trivialization of social media is today’s society seem to be have erased the difference between virtual and real. Would you agree? What is you own experience?
DEBORAH PALMER:    No. At least not for me. Perhaps for the Millennials who were raised with computers and social media from the day that they were born.  People in those age groups tend to play role playing and fantasy games, something my generation did not have access.

SONGSOPTOK : In your opinion, has social media contributed to breaking down of traditional rules of social relationships? In what way? How would you analyze the impact of social media in this context?
DEBORAH PALMER:    Yes. Because people say things on social media that they would not say to the person’s face.  Also social media can alienate people from engaging in the outside world. Walking down the street all you see are people tied to some electronic device. They walk into museums past beautiful artwork engaged in texting or chatting failing to appreciate what is around them. Or visitors to museums become digital voyeurs just pointing and clicking pictures without meaning, substance or understanding of the subject that they are photographing. Their cameras have become extensions of themselves. They are like the Borg on Star Trek. Failing to contemplate or ponder a painting or a sculpture, they amass hundreds of photos as materialistic collectors saying, “Look at me! I’ve been there. Aren’t I a great somebody!” The same can be said for people outside. They are there but at the same time not there tethered to various to their devices afraid to cut the umbilical cord.

SONGSOPTOK : Do you believe that social media can play a constructive role for world peace and unity? Or on the contrary play a totally negative role by fuelling existing conflicts between nations and communities?
DEBORAH PALMER:    Both. Facebook is a prime example. There are many good causes such a gun control, helping the developmentally disabled, the poor, Women’s rights, etc… but on the other hand the police monitor Facebook because street gangs post who is going to be their next target! Most social media networks have had to posts and posters who promote violence and hate. Actually in the last few mass shootings in America,  i.e. the gunman who shot 9 people during a Bible study in Church that shooter had posted Neo nazi and race hatred on his page!  As horrible as these murders are perhaps it will open a dialogue to deal with race hatred in the United States.

SONGSOPTOK : How effective can be the role of social media as a tool of protest and action against all sorts of social ills and injustices?
DEBORAH PALMER:    Personally I’ve used social media to promote Autism Activism in the United States and worldwide. The more exposure the better to help developmentally disabled people.  Social media does have the power to make victims into victors. It empowers those who previously had no power and gives voice to the voiceless.

SONGSOPTOK : Lastly, we would like to know the impact of social media, if any, in your own life. What kind of journey has it been? What are your own expectations about the evolution of social media?
DEBORAH PALMER:     Going back to the subject of Autism Activism, I am an Autism Advocate for my brother Stephen.  My brother cannot use social media but I am his voice. Stephen is one of the many faces of Autism. My goal is to galvanize not only elected officials but faith leaders and others in positions of power to change the laws in America so caregivers and their loved ones have greater flexibility and fewer stigmas. I’m one of many voices demanding Paid Family Leave that includes siblings who are left out of the current law.



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