Standing United in Social Media

In the past few days, videos of a man forcefully pulled out of his seat in a United Airline plane circulated on the Internet. It was a result of overbooking, a common practice among airline companies, and 4 passengers were asked to give up their seats for 4 employees of United Airlines. The videos went viral, as it displayed an ugly side of how United Airlines handled this situation.

United Airlines violently removing passenger from his seat

Passenger injured and bloodied in United Airlines confrontation

These two videos, and another one showing the incident from an adjacent angle, blew up on social media sites, and garnered countless attention. A large majority of people paying attention to this story is blaming United Airlines for this disturbing and unnecessary incident, and some of them says that they will never ride on United Airlines anymore. While it’s unsure how United Airlines’ revenue will be impacted, the share price of the company felt the impact of the incident, as its share price and market value dropped immediately following the incident. New York Post also reported that “CEO was tone-deaf” as he issued an email which said that “he emphatically stands behind his staff”.

This incident definitely exemplified the power of social media, as it was able to garner so much attention due to the share-ability nature of social media. It shares some similarity with one of the case that Prof Kyu shared with us in “Social Media in Asian context”. In the Namyang dairy incident, people wanted to pursue social justice for the senior who was bullied; netizens are calling out United Airlines for their gross behavior in this incident. There were media richness as well, as people felt offended that the airline company was capable of such inhumane behavior despite it claiming and promising that it cares for the safety of its passengers. The video was very provocative, and stirred strong emotions in netizens, and their rage expedited the issue.

This incident could be explained with a lot of the knowledge that I gained from COMM346. COMM346 has opened my eyes to how closely relevant social media is to our lives. Society is deeply embroiled in social media, as people’s emotions could be stirred up using provocative content on social media. Companies cannot deny the impact of social media, as it relates to their bottomline and company performances. As an individual, all the more it is important for us to know how social media plays a part in our lives, as it will definitely affect our future prospects: in employment, relationships, and more. Henceforth it is important for us to manage social media, no matter what our status or identity is.

Learning how social media comes to life in COMM346 was a joy, but it could not have been so without Prof Kyu. I would like to thank Prof Kyu for sharing valuable insights of the correlations between social media and organisations, societies, and individuals, and for helping me understand the intricacies of social media strategies much easier with interesting and thought-provoking examples. I would also like to thank TA Pui Fang for helping me out whenever I run into problems. COMM346 is definitely one of the modules that will resonate with me even after I graduate from SMU and enter the workforce!