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Opinion

Shakespeare quote inspires new thoughts on social media

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October 24, 2014

An extremely famous playwright once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.”

Originally when I sat down to write this column I was going to write some commentary on plays. The UW-River Falls theatre opened a new play last weekend, “Reckless,” and I had gone to see it. The play was interesting, the characters quirky, and overall the experience was what you would expect of a theatre. If you want to support the UWRF arts and see a play that makes you think, I highly recommend you go see it. If nothing else, read the program. Believe it or not, actors have a sense of humor. But then I was thinking about a quote to use for the column and after I came up with the quote mentioned earlier, I got seriously distracted.

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare may have been making an interesting metaphor with these words, but if you think about it, they ring true today. Our world is a stage, and the audience is the world’s population.

While we might all not be social-media savvy, it does play a distinctive role in our lives. Think of all the news that has been blown up due to social media. Yes, what happened in Ferguson is important but what went on in social media helped make it a big deal. Instead of solely getting news from official providers, we, the audience, got to see Twitter posts from people in the protests, with pictures of both the peaceful and violent moments. These developments allowed us to leave behind the framing issue that comes with prepared news stories, and form our own opinion. Due to social media, the events of the world are available at our fingertips for our information and our entertainment. This makes us the audience. At the same time, we are the people on the stage. If you have a Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest account, you are putting yourself out there. Random people can access your information.

Probably by now you are getting an idea of what I am talking about. Today’s culture may still have its 15 minutes of fame, but social media allows for a person to have at least a small part in the “grand plot.” We are no longer faceless extras; we have a story to tell. If it isn’t too conceited to say, we are dynamic characters in the plot, especially in comparison to the populations of the past. We don’t always have to be on stage (hence the silent majority) but our entrances do have an impact in the plot as a whole. Another point Shakespeare struck true was that “one man in his time plays many parts.”

While we can relate this to our positions in life, the internet has provided an alternative option. No one knows if you’re a dog on the internet, and a person can be whoever they want. Frankly, someone could have two different user names and then debate with themselves over controversial topics. The anonymity of the internet allows people to do things they would never do in real life. If you doubt this statement, check the comment section under anything, YouTube in particular. The things people say would rarely be spoken out-loud, especially in our passive aggressive Midwest, yet insults are posted with frightening consistency. Seriously, check it out sometime.

Shakespeare may not have understood what a tweet is or the all-knowing power of Google, but he does know how the world works. Some things never change; technology has only enhanced what people already did. So go out and continue making your presence known on the world wide stage. See a play, take a picture, or make a joke. You may not be a main character on the stage, but your soliloquy is still important.

Rachel Molitor is a student at UW-River Falls.