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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN: We got access to internet about in the year 1998/99 –I soon discovered discussion boards online, and messengers as a possibility for communication. It was fun to get to know new people from all over the world, and have conversations with a group of friends.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   One of the biggest advantages of the connection all over the world is, that good messages and informations can be spread and read quickly anywhere. But since the internet is only a tool, it depends on us what kind of messages will be spread – so it also could be bad messages and informations we don’t want or need. We can communicate, which allows us to get into contact with many different cultures, so we can forget prejudice and talk with people directly about the matters that interest us – as long as we follow certain rules, such as respect for each other.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   In former times, people also didn’t need any approval or approbation to publish – it was simply necessary that they could write. I myself didn’t study, because I didn’t have the opportunity to. I think, if someone has a message they really want and need to spread, they should give it a try. But I would recommend to read the comments, to find out what people think about the work. Constructive criticism is welcome, because it helps to find a good way of writing.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   I believe that time will show who has talent, who keeps on writing and is getting better at it, and who is not. Someone who can’t stop writing, because they have something important to say, is a writer. But an artist is not someone, who is calling themselves one – it is others who decide if somebody is an artist.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   It depends on the messages which are being spread – so it depends on us. We should work on our way to communicate, on the languages we use, so that there are as little misunderstandings as possible.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   I think that more work should be done to make people aware of the possibilities of any media – there are still a lot of people which are not aware of possible dangers, or of possible positive influences that social media can have.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN: Often I see when people are spreading positive messages, but I also can see that people, who are hiding behind their online names, are posting messages of hate, which are full of negativity. These person are not discussing – they simply are giving way to their feelings, without even giving reasons.  I hope, these persons are a minority – but because of their way of posting, they get more attention. If someone, who is trying to do something positive must give reasons for doing so, I believe, for spreading negative messages, these persons also should give their reasons. Like anyone who is trying to influence in a positive way, they also should be willing and able to discuss their opinion. If not, they shouldn’t be given attention…

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 your own experience?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   I have a real life, a real family and real friends, which mean a lot to me. I am using social media to stay in contact with them, if they live far away. I also have friends who I got to know online, some of them years ago…So I think that we must get to be aware that behind each computer is a real person, but that it takes a long time and many communications to get to know each other better.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   I don’t think that the rules of social relationships really have been broken, but that they have been widened, because each person can appear online as who they wish to be. Some of them think that they can behave in whatever way they like – but they need to be shown they are wrong. Maybe we need to find more common standards to avoid misunderstandings.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   I indeed believe that communication is needed to bring the human kind closer together – through friendships, discussions and more understanding for different cultures. But we need to stay open-minded so we can see the positive in other cultures, and also face problems of our own culture.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   Before changing something, persons must be aware of the problem. Any problem should be seen from many different sides, so before building an opinion, anyone should get themselves informed.

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?

BRITTA HOFFMANN:   I have family and friends, with who I try to stay in contact using social media. I think that they are a tool that can be used in both, positive and negative way, but that in the end, it depends on us. My opinion is, that in the future, most people will use social media as a part of their social life, as a possibility to communicate.


We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)

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