Social movements in the United States and other places around the world have recently been able to take form and make an impact because of digital media and the rhetoric involved. The new digital media platform provides an opportunity for people coming from different backgrounds and perspectives to convene to make a change. Social media, a branch of the new digital medias, is the forefront for the formation of these social movements and help transmit their message.
One reason that digital media is such a fertile environment for rhetoric is because it is a place that is for the most part not governed by a world organization, with the exception of countries with huge censorship programs such as North Korea and China. This means that a message can get out and inform the populous with what would have been impossible to inform. Before it would be very easy for a king or any other dictator to suppress ideas that may have differed from his. Also with this separation from any world order the internet can provide a meeting grounds for all of those involved in the movement, here without anyone restricting them they can organize set up events to happen in the “real world” (Castells 9-10). A good example is a local non-profit in Washington D.C, Miriam’s Kitchen. This homeless shelter is using social networking to bring a better awareness to a problem in the community and through their different social network cites are able to bring together the people who are fortunate to have homes and food and allow them to work together for the common good.
Along with the autonomy of the internet, digital media also provides a platform that is instantaneous. Just the difference between handwritten scripts and books when the Guttenberg press was released was night and day. Instead of only the elite being able to obtain such writings because they took too long to make and made of expensive materials, now commoners could get their hands-on writings that could change their perspective. Also because of the ease of creating such texts it was easier to have more abstract ides being formulated and not just the censored information coming from the church at that time. Social media magnifies this ancient change by an exponential amount, with the click of a button the information can be received by billions around the world. In the case of Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington D.C it was on a much lower scale, but the speed at which a message could be broadcasted made a tremendous impact on benefits to the soup kitchen whether it be an update about the weather or about the people at the shelter.
Manuel Castells, “Networking Minds, Creating Meaning, Contesting Power,” in
Networks of Outrage and Hope (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012),1-19.