To what extent can social media bring about change? You cannot say that social media has no impact on our daily life. It has shaped our entire culture. It has influenced our speech, our routines, and has become a majority influencer of our daily life. If there is a prevalent issue happening in our world, you can be sure that everyone on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are talking about it. It is a great tool that spreads information and awareness rapidly. It helps individuals get involved and can increase the sharing of information faster than ever before. It can inspire a call for action and promote civic engagement in many ways. But it is naive to think that a Facebook post alone will bring about change.
It would be a faulty assumption to think that social media will solve the world’s problems. Retweeting and reposting status’s won’t save lives and won’t pass legislation. We still have to act! I feel like social media and social networking sites have diluted issues and promised solutions if you simply like a comment or change your profile picture. For example, many people changed their twitter photos to a picture of the Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon. People could see that picture and they too could change their photo and become informed about this organization, but in doing so, you aren’t aiding research or working with a cancer patient. You really aren’t changing anything.
Who are the few activist?
Also, even online, there is a correlation between civic engagement and class. “Whether they take place on the internet or off, traditional political activism remains the domain of those with high levels of income and education.” (Pew institute). Those with money are more likely to partake in political activism, so it seems that only a select few are really getting involved.
The Power of Twitter and its Limitations
Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister, stated that “twitter had the power to prevent genocide”. While in some cases this may be true some countries, including China, filter and censor many posts and have even imprisoned Twitter users who tweeted negative things about the Chinese government. Could these people by use of twitter prevent their own genocide? Maybe not.
There are some cases where social media sites have brought about change. Social media has created a new form of public journalism and now news can be spread to the people by the people. In Egypt, social media attention lead to the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak,” We shouldn’t go so far as to call this a social media revolution, but it nevertheless is arguably the first time in history that we’ve seen Facebook and Twitter, a crucial part of the way we now communicate, speedily and successfully conveying the ideas and beliefs that do lead to a revolution”(McCarthy).
On Twitter, groups organized to meet and protest. It sparked a revolution. It is not enough to simply write a post about flaws in a governmental system, you must join together and take action.
So in conclusion, don’t let social media sites dilute the issues. Social media is an amazing tool that should be utilizes to pass information, spread awareness, and evoke a call to action. Text on a webpage won’t solve world hunger, but it can be the spark that starts the fire.