The Expressway for Activism Social media has revolutionized communication between humans forever. Gone are the days of sending graphite etched lines on sections of dead trees through the same impersonal and inefficient way that millions of other people sent messages: the United States Postal Service. Messages could not be mailed on weekends, or holidays, or if there was a bad storm. Also, people had to pay each time they wanted to send one. These messages took days to reach their destinations, or even weeks depending where in the world they needed to go. Yet, people accepted this as quick.

In the past century several large social movements have been started and carried out, including the women’s movement of the twenties and the civil rights movement of the sixties. Gathering enough organized support for these changes took decades. To attend meetings or conferences people had to put their daily lives on hold, drive to their destination (which could be hundreds of miles depending on the state of residence versus the meeting location) and then spending the time required before returning home. Those who could not do this relied on newspapers to cover the story and word of mouth to cover all the details that were not publicized. Not only is this slow, but it can be unreliable as newspapers have biases and people can unintentionally misconstrue details. Finally, once all the information had been disbursed and paper petitions signed, it had to be sent back to law makers to review and hope that this would be enough to call for change.

Just before the turn of the century, the World Wide Web was created, linking millions of people across the globe together on one digital sequence. The only problem? Getting those people in contact with each other. Finding strangers whom you could connect with in the dark vast digital landscape was near impossible. But then, social media was born. First starting as chat rooms, then growing into now outdated outlets like MySpace, and now the most recognized social media outlets are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There are many ways to improve your social media fans either you can buy real Instagram followers or even on Twitter & Facebook. These outlets allow people from every country to gather on one website, even including translations for information that pops up in different languages.

In today’s day and age, we can connect with people all the way across the globe within a nanosecond, which was unheard of only a few decades ago.. Sure this is great for inviting friends to a cookout. Instead of buying all the invitations, mailing them all out, hoping they get to the recipient and back to you in time, you can create an event on Facebook and invite all your friends instantly, and receive reservations in real time. For the everyday person social media is a great convenience, linking friends who are only a few miles from one another yet can’t seem to line up their schedules with enough time to hang out. But for the activists, the leaders, the revolutionaries, the humanitarians, and those who simply dive head first into change this is a game changer.

With various platforms of social media, pictures, posts and information can be shared instantaneously and spread like wildfire, also called “going viral”. While this may be bad news for the college student who got drunk at last night’s biggest party on campus, it is fantastic for those who want to change the world. Individuals can now search for groups of people with the same interests as them by simply using keywords and asking to join the group. Members can be located across the nation or even across the world, yet they will all see the same posts in their feed.

Problems can no longer be hidden in ignorance. As soon as an issue arises, even if it is halfway across the Earth, it can attract international attention within hours. Suddenly, the victims of genocides and natural disasters are receiving relief from countries they may have never heard of before, and people they may never meet. Relying on pen and paper does not allow information to be spread as quickly, but the digital age allows such things to occur. In addition to relief, people can now gather in large groups to pressure lawmakers, company CEOs and even people in other countries to take action against injustices internationally. Through hashtags, online petitions, and the infamous share and retweet buttons, information is passing through hands as neither fast as lightening, until nobody can hide from nor ignore the truth.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Great a bunch of people holding their phones complaining to a bunch of other people with phones.” But this is simplifying the cause and effect. The alternatives and solutions that took years, even decades, to gain enough popularity, support, and funding to be implemented in the past century, can now be pushed in the matter of a few days. Social media outlets allow other webpages to be linked to personal pages, business pages, and even in comments. So now when an environmental activist is attempting to gain support for their clean up event, environmental pages can share the information, volunteers can sign up from the comfort of their living rooms months before the event, and those who cannot volunteer can donate money in real time from a debit or credit card through various campaign funding platforms.

Social media allows activists to gain support, funding, and volunteers in record time and numbers. It also allows victims to share their stories and be heard around the globe. Movements that took decades in the last century, like women’s rights of civil rights, now take the world by storm in a few years, like gay rights. The evolution and usage of social media has grown beyond the original boundaries of friends talking to friends. Today, strangers are talking to strangers, discussing political issues, climate change, humanitarian crises, and most importantly, solutions. The exponential amount of idea sharing is unprecedented and gives way to an increased number of solutions and compromises. Through social media, individuals and the human race as a whole will progress quicker than it ever has before.

Jennifer Miele

 

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