Some issues are all too easy to ignore. A person needing money for a surgery, the local government planning to destroy a natural or historic landmark in order to build a factory, hate crimes, abuses, pollution – we know all of these exist, but we are inclined to pretend they don’t, at least not where we can see them. Out of sight, out of mind – and we go about our lives blissfully unaware of the problems our society faces until we get blindsided ourselves. Here is how social media helps resolve some of these issues.
Taking the First Step
The thing to realize is that social media makes it much easier to connect to strangers that see the same problem you do and want to do something about it. Before that, even if we are willing to voice our concerns, we would find little feedback by our local community and friends, who either don’t recognize the issue or are not willing to fight it. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, for example, make it easier to make your voice heard.
Making arrangements and coordinating with your group has also become easier and more time-efficient. You don’t need to have official meetings before organizing protests, making banners, and creating a long-term plan of action.
Messages and public announcements facilitate the meetings and increase the overall efficiency of the organizational part of the movement. If you ask your friends to share a post or a tweet, and they do so, while urging their friends to do the same, you have an army of strangers by your side. Your posts spread like wildfire, which is why some political leaders try to curb or completely eliminate their people’s use of social media and the internet as a whole.
In 2014, a community was trying to raise awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease by issuing the Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenged person would either get a bucket of ice-cold water dumped on them or donate money to research. The reason for the ice water was so that people would realize what having ASL felt like. Celebrities also started donating and nominating each other. Pretty soon, the challenge became an annual tradition, though it is not as viral as it originally was. The donations resulting from the challenge went over $100 million to various ASL organizations.
Another example is a more recent one. A person photographed themselves before and after cleaning a field of garbage and posted it online. The photo went viral and pretty soon, on March 10th, 2019 people started gathering around doing the #Trashtag Challenge.
It is not just that people genuinely wanted to help these issues, though that was a big chunk of it. People also want to do something good whole others are watching them. It is a part of our need to be liked by everyone that makes us hop aboard trends. Luckily, sometimes things get aligned correctly and people do great things together.