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The Power of Social Media: Conference on World Affairs 2012

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64th Annual Conference on World Affairs

The panel discussing  social media at this year's Conference on World Affairs was in agreement that it is a double- edged sword that can both help and hinder a cause.

Audience and panelists alike noted that both protesters and the people they are protesting can use it to literally read the other side's thoughts.  

Panelists included Andie Grace, the communications coordinator for Burning Man, Scott Olsen, an Iraq veteran wounded last year in an Occupy protest, Jay Parker, a professor at the College of International Security Affairs of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., and  Limor Shiponi, a professional storyteller. 

The wide array of panelists covered the topic from historical to present-day contexts. 

The power of social media was illustrated when a teenager whose friend died after being subject to online harassment asked if the good aspects of social media outweigh the bad. The panelists agreed that this dark side of social media needs to be addressed, and called for a renewed tone of civility online.

Grace pointed out that though social media creates problems, it can also help isolated teens. She cited the It Gets Better Project , which lets them know they are not alone, as an example.  

The 2012 Conference on World Affairs is taking place this week at the University of Colorado in Boulder. It wraps up Friday, April 13th.

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