the importance of social media to activism

Lindsey Brown Professor Daren Dean English 2000 22 March 2013 You Cannot Ignore the Importance of Social Media According to Dictionary. reference. com, activism is the policy or action of using campaigning to bring about political or social change. A huge campaign that is well known across the world, the Civil Rights Movement, was brought about by Martin Luther King, Jr. King risked his life everyday to ensure justice and equality for the African American race.

“Small Change” by Malcolm Gladwell gives insight on how activism is more effective than social media, especially from one scenario at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Gladwell points out his strong belief of what activism can do for a society rather what social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook can do. Although many people may or may not agree with Gladwell’s point of view that, “The new tools of social media have reinvented social activism”, this remains a very important topic for discussion.

From the Civil Rights Movement, activism has been very beneficial to certain societies while so has social networking media sties. Today, there are many sources that support the idea that social media does have a strong impact on political or social change. However, as a member of society I have acknowledged the reasons behind activism’s effectiveness. The matter of activism has always been beneficial in the field of change.

Since activism deals with the attacking deeply rooted problems the question of what is considered a tool of activism is an argument for both sides. In one case Gladwell’s article, “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted”, argues against the strong impact and change of social media. In the article he states that the platforms of social media are built around weak ties and weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism. He further claims that although social networks are effective at increasing participation social activism does not succeed by motivation.

In the end Gladwell addresses that social media shifts out energies from different organizations that encourage strategic planning and activity toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. This represents a critical dilemma because some people rely on Facebook and Twitter for support. To make the assertion that activism has proved its un-denying positive effects from past historical events. Thus this assertion proves to be highly partial. Even though social media is intended to be used as an instrument that is well suited to making the existing social order more efficient.

Because activism lack the ability to reach out to a wider variety of people across the world it cannot be stated that activism is the most effective and efficient way of political and social change. In addition people in a certain activism situation cannot spread their word out to everybody possible. Thus as members of society we have influence in the outcome of small activism situations. In addition whether or not we acknowledge social activism as effective and taking a stand for or against social media will in turn affect both our society and the fate of the societal impact.

So in this situation for those who believe that activism is a strong, influential technique it is understandable to oppose social media in order to protect your name out in the social networks. By doing so those who argue against social media are also speaking and supporting the effectiveness of the MLK era and more. Aside from the hacking and spam issues social media has also proven to have multiple disadvantages. Social media requires the collection of information, personal or organizational, to be shown to the outside world.

While we tend to think that social media sites are secure, there are numerous instances where social media sites have been hacked and personal information has been compromised. This proves to be the first issue because of the risk and the fraudulent of personal information. This method is highly risky because of the amount of information that opens up to possible hackers to commit fraud and launch spam and virus attacks on your computer. Another drawback is the potential to cause riots or outbreaks in a school, town, or even a country.

The countless amount of bullying that happens on social networks is evidence that if social media participants are not careful about what they post on their social media pages and on the Internet for public viewing, it can possibly trigger bias or prejudice judgments. Social networking sites began to become popular in 2002 and although still in their youth, it has many disadvantages that should not be overlooked. People should not have to be worried about what they put on social networks because as Americans, we have freedom of speech.

Thus it is reasonable for people to be skeptical and oppose social media when runs the risk of being counterproductive. No matter how much potential social media has for political or societal change it is important to criticize its negative aspects. An article written by Andrea Moncada, begins her argument with the question has social media had the same impact on advocacy. Similar to Gladwell’s points of view, Moncada states, “social media can help get the word around, but participants must be united by a core message and traditional methods…” This source of uncertainty is the basis for its support and is understandable.

In addition to the fraudulent issue and the disadvantages it presents; there is a crucial distinction between traditional activism and its online variant: social media is not a hierarchical organization. According to Malcolm Gladwell, Facebook and the like are tools for building networks which are opposite of the structure and characteristics of hierarchies. A single central authority does not control the rules and procedures of Facebook and other social networking sites. This presents an issue because successful decisions are made through a consensus from an organizational group.

Thus the subject of not having a hierarchy on social networks bonds people to a group are loose due to the variety of people and the social connection rather than physically coming together for a group meeting to receive important information and to make decisions. One of the arguments raised regarding social media goals without a centralized leadership structure was that the people associated with the networks cannot think strategically which in turn are prone to conflict and error.

Gladwell further stated that social media makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. While I do acknowledge all the issues that have been brought up against social media activists, the study of the social networks can be highly beneficial to society. Social media has unique characteristics of adapting to different peoples interest around the globe. Because of this technology gain it allows people to niche similar or opposing interests.

In many cases social media has brought people together for the better and impacted the success rate of activists. In 2010, Digital U made a video “Social Activism” that brought up the idea of social media being a new communication that has reinvented how activists organize. Lead by nGenera Insight Chairman, Don Tapscott, says that social media is developing a “new communication medium that is creating an opportunity to reinvent the world. ” In other cases social media is not a one-way conversation, yet it is a huge conversation around the world in turn is empowering people.

You can create a business, athletic team, or even gain a family online due to the power of social networking. People are emotionally receiving the benefit of the works of social media among different people around the world. In many cases social media has brought up the idea of transparency. In Digital U’s video, “Tell No Lies”, Roz Lemieux states a common idea that people cannot just sweep things under the rug and believe that information will never be revealed. Transparency in social networking sites postings is prevalent in the business and political world.

A lot of people look up to social figures, such as political leaders or celebrities. With this, there are some ideas that social networking sites bring to the public that some people previously may not have known due to people trying to cover up certain things. This is evident in political election campaigns; there are many true and false rumors out there that can sway a person’s vote when it comes to which is the appropriate candidate despite beliefs and debates. Thus one way for society to receive the full benefit of social media while maintaining integrity is through compromise.

The fist step begins by acknowledging that both sides have something to contribute to society. Social media can prove to be beneficial in the communication, conversation aspect of the world but should not overlook the potential transparency it faces. Thus the number of times it is used to transmit information can be done and should be limited by the understanding of risk. This means that the use of social media should be carefully watched. However social media carried out successfully can begin a great activist organization for any particular issue.

By allowing the continuation of social media it will also allow activists to further their abilities to reach out to a larger crowd of people and it will also present it with the opportunity to have a much stronger and larger impact on society. The goal of the compromise is not to prohibit social media to be used as a form of activism but instead help the world come together. Through this compromise both sides will also gain the benefits of what the other can contribute to society. Works Cited “Dictionary. com. ” Activism. <http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/activism? s=t>.

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change. ” Why the revolution will not be tweeted. (2010): n. page. Print. Lemieux, Roz, dir. SOCIAL MEDIA: Transparency – Tell No Lies. 2010. Film. 20 Mar 2013. <http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=QD28DBGQJsg>. Moncada, Andrea. “Social media and policy change: good practice from Indonesia. ” on think tanks. N. p. , 13 Feb 2013. Web. 20 Mar 2013. <http://onthinktanks. org/2013/02/13/social-media-and-policy-change/>. Tapscott, Don, dir. SOCIAL MEDIA: Online Activism. 2010. Film. 20 Mar 2013. <http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=AN-kIJI_5wg>.

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