Social media / social change

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I’ve had some interesting discussions this week in various places about the power of social media to effect change. It all stemmed from me changing my profile picture in both Twitter and Facebook to a symbol which represents my support of marriage equality which is currently being debated by the Supreme Court in the United States of America. The symbol:





represents marriage equality .  There were many people who have also adopted this sign – or a similar one – but the debate again was brought up about whether merely ‘liking’ something, or changing your profile picture represented change.

My argument has always been that I’m not so naïve as to believe that merely changing a picture or liking a page is going to effect real change in the world, but getting a message across to a lot of people can help with it.  Changing my picture does not indicate that this is the only action I have taken or intend to take on matter – marriage equality in this instance – but I believe that if enough people show they support this, then governments and politicians will take note.  It’s interesting how some previous hardliners are moving towards supporting marriage equality, because they are seeing that it makes political sense.

It also brought up the issue of how people often react to others in social media.  People I don’t know feel they have the right to judge me, and make assumptions about my motives and actions, without bothering to get into dialogue about it.  I have no problem with people disagreeing – in fact I always welcome dialogue, but I get cross when people make snap judgments.  And then feel they have the right to post those snap judgements in a public forum.

This issue of being a ‘slacktivist’, as I was called, as opposed to an ‘activist’ is an interesting one, because it brings up the issue of what’s ‘real’.  I believe that the digital world is as real as anything else, and actions which occur in the digital realm can be – and are – as powerful as if I physically protested.  Why do people still think that there is a different between the ‘real world’ and the ‘virtual world’?  Surely, it’s all one and the same these days?


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