New Media and its Role on Social Activism
New media such as the Internet and social media have had a huge impact on our society. It has made our lives easier, for now everything it’s at the palm of our hands. All we got to do is open our computers and we can find information, news stories, buy things online among other million things one can do on the internet. A few of the advantages of new media such as social media are that it reaches millions of people, it’s broad in audience and allows the transfer of information in a rapid way. These advantages facilitate the new role that new media has taken in the social activism world. With the raise of Twitter and Facebook more and more activists emerge. However, it’s important to note that these platforms did not create new activists. Social media only organize activists. Social activism has been around for a long time with out the help of updating status, sharing photos or videos, or the need for 140 characters.
The Internet it’s a great tool for activism, but we must know to not solely rely on it. New media allows people to get together for a common cause. For example, the ALS bucket challenge. There were 4.4 million Tweets with the #icebucketchallenge hashtag. Another example it’s the Kony 2012 campaign, the video about Joseph Kony reached 100 million views, and there were 5 million tweets about the video. Even though social media is a great tool for social activism, it lacks one very important factor-human activity. These platforms promote an effort to promote these causes, but it makes human activity no more possible, and this is important to fight any social cause. The notion that these people were involved, interested, and interacted with the cause on social media supports Malcolm Gladwell’s argument about the limits of social media and the ability to make a revolution and make change. Gladwell argues that social media platforms create weak ties between people. These ties are just not strong enough to motivate people to take risks, to take action beyond just interacting with the cause on social media. Taking risks is what sparks a revolution on our society. The Civil Right movement and the Arab Spring are some examples of causes that succeeded, for they were fought based on strong ties and. Those movements relied on strong bonds the ones that only interaction between friends, family or colleagues can make.
There is a really good quote by Gladwell that summarizes the role that social media plays today on social activism “[Social media] activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice,”. We all can agree that this is very true, and in fact many of us have been guilty of it. There has been a time that we believe that by just sharing an article, or posting about a cause that is enough to make a change. Well, it is not. Pretending to care about a social cause is not actually caring at all because if we would truly care our actions would go beyond just clicktivism. I would challenge you and my self to really think about this, and next time you want to do something for a cause would do more truly activism and less slacktivisim.