Does social media help or hamper social change?
Filed under: social change | Tags: activism, communication, community, community service, Generation Y, interaction, Millennials, social change, social media, technology |
A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor called for Millennials to engage in more face-to-face activism in light of an apparent over-reliance on social media as a means of social change. Social media has been a powerful tool that has broken down language and geographic barriers, enabling a teenager to support ending the Darfur genocide from the comfort of their own bedroom. The problem is that the activism can stay right there – behind the bedroom door.
Social networks can create a false sense of community. It’s hard to understand what it means to live on less than $2 a day without meeting a family that needs to do so or understanding on a personal level how economic forces influence food supply and prices. We all know that you can not solve world hunger by visiting FreeRice.com. Some people are willing to give of their time and expertise, but what about the people who only add Facebook Causes to change their profile? I wonder if the sense of satisfaction they get from their online efforts makes them feel that face-to-face activism is either unnecessary or passe.
Every major preceding social movement has been built on personal relationships that grew to organizational formation and evolved into institutional change. While this century’s social movements may not appear identical to the well-known civil rights movements, anti-Vietnam War movement and others, real social change may still need people raising awareness among people who do not have access to social media. There may be obstacles when you try to show up, but you have to know how to work around the roadblocks. After all, no one ever said that change is easy.
What do you think? Can social media create real, lasting change or is it all about being trendy to show which causes you “support?”