Before I did research on Digital Activism, I thought Twitter and other social media sites were not the best ways to start a movement of change in the world. The way Twitter and social media sites function today is (from what I’ve seen) a great way to get the cause or grievance known (as it goes on national news stations) but then ultimately fails due to a lack of leadership and furthering the cause. Sure, it’s a great way to raise awareness and bring light to a topic that needs addressing but after a while, these topics fall by the wayside because there is no central authority in which someone takes the responsibility to further the cause and bring about change. Take, for example, the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown provided by Hello Giggles:
When unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by a police officer, the media chose to portray him in a particular way by selecting pictures of him which seemingly implied that he was a troublemaker. Twitter users responded by posting “dueling” pictures of themselves in which they appeared troublesome in the first image and wholesome in the second, posing the question “#IfTheyGunnedMeDown which picture would the media choose?”
While this brought light to a serious topic, it no longer means anything because it was not properly guided into greater light long enough for anything to happen. If asked, most people might not even remember this hashtag (or even know about it period!) because it was only fleeting and didn’t stay around long enough to bring about change.
While I still stand by my previous point about social media sites and Digital Activism failing to bring about social change on a national or global scale, I have altered my view on what these can do on a relatively local scale. There are many teens that use social media and Digital Activism to bring about change in their own communities or even around the world in a smaller scale (follower- and user-wise). Take, for example, @ProjectBuddy—a group of teens who “works by pairing people as buddies based on their interests (singers, bands, TV shows, movies, etc) and their age group (13-15, 16-18, 19-24, 25+)” to “prevent suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders […]because no one deserves to feel alone.” This form of activism is monumentally effective because it aims to help anyone and everyone that reaches out for it. This is demonstrated by their video from all of the user-submitted testimonies that highlight the gratitude and gratefulness felt by these followers.
This is great to me because I feel it’s important to reach out and help those who want it. Coupled with the fact that there are thousands of teens who are the ones to be the Digital Activists is just mind-blowing for me. While this may not be on a grand, national scale, it is still something that makes a positive difference in the world, which is more than can be asked for in the world we live in.