Authority is represented by those who hold it. It is either taken or given. Most of the time it is both. I have held a position of authority of a good portion of my working career. It comes with its rewards and its heartaches. There are a wide ranges of behaviors associated with my interactions with those people. The first two items that I want to touch on are founded entirely on my experiences on this subject. The next two items are examinations on two different sorts of perspectives. The first is the perspective of the authority. In this I can only express from my own view point. The second is the perspective of the authority as an individual. There is some form of context to be had when viewing different forms of authority. The scale of that authority defines how we react to that authority.
I do this in order to better frame the research and establish a mindful approach when considering the questions. It is fair to try to understand how I react to authority, as well as evaluate a differing opinion. In this I want to be able to express how the two influence the other through new media. It is with this constant interconnectedness that allows that flow of information between authority and subordinate. It is impossible to interact with one and not be influenced by one as well.
Perspective as the authority
When interacting with people whom I have authority over, I have to maintain a professional decorum. I have to be able to talk to those under me, and tell them what needs to be done in order to be able to achieve tasks that are important to the goals of the company or to the day. It is my job to define the priorities and reallocate resources to the appropriate tasks. This requires me to communicate to persons within my building, and at the corporate office. I may have to field questions and give responses to other entities in other stores. This requires me to communicate via e-mail, telephone, and mobile messaging.
Understanding how I am to communicate with people depends entirely on the context of the message, which in turn defines the medium. Important things usually involve a phone call and situations that do not require immediate response is via text message or e-mail.
When communicating via these many methods I have to be aware of what I say or do. My statements can be misinterpreted or confused. A simple friendly communication from me can be considered furious or anxious to a person who may be in that frame of mind. I have to be mindful of this distinction. This mindfulness would lead me to add friendly cues to my messages, or express appreciation. It often requires me to stop and reread what I have written to ensure that questions of my competence are not called into question when I misspell or mispunctuated.
When I craft my messages I consider it an art of interaction. It is a difficult medium to properly express the intended emotion or desire. Artfully posing questions, and making it sound beneficial to the receiver is very important to me.
That is perhaps one of the hardest barriers that as an authority figure, I have to be able to drill into. People are very self absorbed and will be strongly focused on their own lives and needs. I have to communicate to the self interest of that person to convince them to help me in a task. The need to place yourself in their shoes is evident in that. Like in any interaction that I would have, I need to empathetic to my team’s needs so they can help facilitate my request.
In this environment anonymous activities are hard to maintain. Everything is tracked, and recorded. It would be hard to send a derogatory email to all the addresses without being caught. There are time stamps, and return addresses that can be looked at. Compounded by the availability of camera systems that can be remotely accessed, it would take very little work to find the person who may have sent it. Messages sents from and to phones had numbers attached to them, as well as individual logs that can be used in prosecutions. Facebook has only become relevant when small social disputes happen and are brought into the store by the participants. I have a very strict personal rule that I will never friend request a work person. I may even on some levels refuse friend requests, especially if they are subordinate to me. This is to protect myself from any issues that may arise, and prevents them from being invasive into my personal life.
Perspective as the individual
I think it is important to know what my own personal reactions are to authority before I can fully understand how it might affect another person. Step one of understanding another person is to metaphorically walk in their shoes. This is an essential portion of this essay in that I will dive into the different types of authorities that I see, and examine how I personally evaluate them. For each I will also examine the impacts that social media has on that authority figure. These are only three major ones out of a myriad of options available.
Authority in the form of government is a very easy theme that I can deal with. I was born in the Air Force. Both of my parents were enlisted within its ranks. As one can imagine, I grew up with a military viewpoint. I am proud of the legacy they left to me. I respect my military, and I respect my government. I may not agree with them, but I am always at will to support them. While I may be slowly slipping out of the range of the draft age, I would still answer a call if my military would call on me. This is assuming that I hadn’t already seen the need and enlisted of my own volition. Therefore, I am more willing to accept government authority.
It takes a person who deliberately ignores the world around them to see only one way, and I have to recognize that not all persons to have similar viewpoints. If anything this election cycle has proven that point manyfold. Some feel that the government is too restrictive, or too loose. That it is fractured, and polarized. This is reflective of the people that have elected to our government the voices. Perhaps it is the problem that people can’t stand to look in the mirror and see themselves for who and what they are. Rather than see the government as We The People, we see it as Them The Few.
I think in this, the technology is serving government very well by creating that reflection. The people are being represented. The problem is that there are so many divergent viewpoints that there is discourse in the government’s actions. Those who have access to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone has access to all government materials and communications. They communicate to it through facebook, emails, website blogs. This constant flow of information is all additive and collects to show where we as a nation view issues.
Election cycles have been growing more dependent on this information as they tailor their arguments to the people’s needs and wants. Each candidate speaks to a specific need. The people are having their influence heard collectively. How and where those needs can be addressed is the biggest issue at hand. Perhaps social media will continue to shape politics, and even push it in directions it could never be forced before. In this, the people are still shaping the government, and the government shapes the people. Both are evolving together as the means of communications allow that evolution to take place.
Religion as an authority figure holds absolutely no water to me. If we speak in strict religious textual terms, I’m not interested. The faiths are all corrupted by human betrayal. Even if the very voice of god as spoken, or etched words of decree, those same words have been handled by humans over many thousands of years. Each person twisting it one way and the next twisting it another. A simple change in letters, or words. Punctuation is altered. Translations are made as languages change. How can the faith not change with the times and the people’s?
What I can acknowledge is the value of some of their teachings. Rather than accept a single faith and only its values, I try to find value of all faiths and accept the universal values they all preach? Why not understand it in a way that connects with the person, and all persons. There is a unifying force behind the universal desires for love, acceptance, and hope. I will never a fault in a person who accepts faith and receives these things. I can fault those who take a life though, as this even is universal in all faiths. Humans have twisted these scriptures to support their desires and beliefs. It is the universal values the religion teaches that accepts my respect. The more the religion stays true to those universal values, the more respect I can have for it.
This is made easier through the use of social media. It has allowed me to connect in a different way to the many voices that speak the words of faith. It lets me see how they are toned, and how expressive they are. In this we can communicate to one another our feelings of belief, and what can make those feelings stronger. However it allows anonymous voices heard that would never have been. A shift of authority is taking place from the conventional clergy to the clergy of the internet. A perfect soapbox to stand on, evangelicals can press their faith with little restraint. Reverence may still be given to those who hold office within a religion’s hierarchy, but the true power is to the people. It then becomes the job of the figurehead to identify the people’s voices and speak on them as determined by their interpretation.
Work authority is treated much in the same way as I do that of government. The employer as a company I have to hold respect to. The entity pays for my life, and all the things that I enjoy doing, or need. If I don’t respect the entity that I work for, then why work there in the first place? Being paid for something you don’t even agree with is an extremely upsetting idea to me. Individual who hold authority over me can sometimes be a frustration, and have varying levels of respect from me.
Most communications are conducted on public channels and are publicly available where there is a terminal available. There is little ability to restrict access to this information, and it is very difficult to hide actions. As such, social media is not the primary source of communications between authority and subordinate. Mobile communications are most common, with text being the predominate form. This leads to miscommunications. The biggest component to this matter is that there are repercussions involved in miscommunications. The wrong word choice can spell disaster to a career at an important point. People are forced to consider their words before pushing the send button.
One cannot interact with the other without being influenced. It doesn’t matter how tyrannical or insignificant the authority is, there is some swaying of opinion and action. Observe the events of the Colombian civil war’s end. The leaders forged a peace agreement bringing to a close decades of conflict. They were affected by the people they led. They discovered the need to end the war and find peace. Social media brings authority closer to the people, and it brings the people closer to authority. This closeness always will have some form of bleed through. The mark of the people are left on the authority, and vice versa. Do demand an interaction free from influence, would be to demand an impossibility.
Davis, Richard, and Diana M. Owen. New Media and American Politics, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.
Religion, Media, and the Public Sphere. Bloomington, US: Indiana University Press, 2005. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 6 November 2016.
By. “Colombia and FARC Rebels Sign Historic Peace Agreement.” Colombia and FARC Rebels Sign Historic Peace Agreement. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.
“The Arab Spring: A Year Of Revolution.” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.