This week in my graduate course, we were asked to engage in a discussion concerning the power of social media after viewing the video found at https://vialogues.com/vialogues/play/17072/. It is a TED talk focused on the story of a graphic designer who organically started a social media campaign focuses on love and friendship between the people of Israel and Iran. If you have never seen it, you should check it out. It's truly touching. Below is my response to the week's prompt.
While the current trend (for my friends at least) is to view social media as a time suck, I think that social media has incredible power when used to facilitate conversations geared toward positive social change. The power lies in the freedom to publish to the public. Before social media, only major media outlets could get their content in front of thousands of viewers/readers. That level or access is now open for anyone with an Internet connection. While it is similar to blogging, social media is currently far more visual and is literally designed to have an active audience that ‘follows’ you.
My favorite time that social media was used for social change was during the oral arguments for the DOMA Supreme Court Case. The Human Rights Campaign has an article about it here. It was incredibly inspiring to see so many friends and family members change their Facebook profile picture to a red version of the Human Rights Campaign Logo to show their support for marriage equality. I firmly believe that the strong voice being expressed on social media with respect to LGBT rights is a large reason why nationwide approval is at a record high of 61%.
Major media news coverage largely spends it’s time focusing on conflicts and unique events happening across the world. While this is very valuable information to share, it is only one-sided and commonly ends up with many media outlets focused on the exact same story. I believe social media’s defining characteristic is its focus on our common humanity. It is this characteristic that makes it a very powerful kind of media.
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.