Farmhouse Fraternity's first promotional video for their 2015 #BeSocialBeSafe campaign.
Scrolling through Facebook earlier this week, I came upon a refreshingly meaningful, substantive post that has really hit home with me. Out of recent tragedy in their immediate community, Farmhouse Fraternity at the University has launched a social media campaign focused on the dangers of the overconsumption of alcohol and on redefining the culture that surrounds drinking in college. Being a member of the Greek community myself and an individual who worries about others to overly extreme extents, I'm a huge supporter of this. I have my own hesitations about its capacity for success, but in beginning to recognize the impact of social media in other matters significant to humanity, I can really get on board. #BeSocialBeSafe has the potential to make a difference on our campus, and even beyond, because it follows the trend of many broader campaigns and, even in its earliest breeding grounds, has the right aims and motivations to make an impact.
I think it can be easy to doubt the power of the age of social media. How can a few videos, a catchy hashtag, and a of couple posts per week possibly cause change in the grand scheme of things, let alone revolutionary ones? Although in an extremely early stage of its lifespan, the #BeSocialBeSafe campaign is kairotic-- that is, it has come at an opportune time to address its aims. The recent death of a beloved member of the house has provided an exigence for the organization to take matters into their own hands. This is not a new method of provoking social change, but rather can be seen in comparison to other, more global movements, and provide predictions for the possible ends to be achieved by it.
A significant realization that has come out of my recent focus on the nature of hashtags and social media campaigns is the way in which most are developed. #RefugeesWelcome, #BringBackOurGirls, and #HeForShe are some of the most powerful uses of the hashtag in the past year. Their overwhelming success (based on general response and majority actions that extend beyond the world of social media) highlight what seems to be a pretty simple process, one that I predict will also be true in the case of Farmhouse’s campaign. It looks something like this:
The existence of a problem in real life--whether the Syrian refugee crisis this past September, the inequality of men in women, or the overconsumption of alcohol leading to the worst possible scenario-- has been cause for the creation of social media campaigns that allow people to voice their own opinions as individuals but also to come together to create a larger meaning. This form of democratic iteration has defined what hashtags and these kinds of campaigns can be. Following suit from the motivation or disturbance of what is promoted through the movements has come real life action that has the ability to change the lives of those targeted people or ideas. Nationwide relief efforts, public conferences, and the challenging of a socially-accepted notion of sociality are just a few of these, with multitudes of possibilities associated. These hashtags have brought together individuals from across the world regarding their perspectives on specific concerns, and provide points of common interest to begin to initiate social change.
The Farmhouse #BeSocialBeSafe campaign speaks to those who drink and those who don't, to those in Greek life and beyond it. It is providing a grounds for a new type of conversation surrounding our culture of alcohol and socialization. This movement provides a local example of the way in which hashtags and more general social media campaigns are able to impact the world in real ways, beyond our screens. As individuals, we have a platform to start the conversation that is unlike any that have ever been presented in all of history. And that is pretty dang sweet.