Social networking is a collaborative experience focused on engagement, relationships, and relevance. While many focus on the personal endeavor of sharing stories, photographs and commentary with friends, we are just beginning to explore and tap into the power of sharing and social activism.
We now have the opportunity to create connections with people by sharing photos, videos, even what book you’re reading, what song moves you and what events you’re attending. Does this shared connection, even with someone you’ve never met, allow for a new type of engagement?
How can we transition this personal engagement to civil engagement?
We’ve already seen some examples of how deeply social media can affect events that are occurring throughout the world, and bring them into the public consciousness. As protests erupted in the Middle East earlier this year, Twitter users featured a hashtag of their location to document each event. YouTube videos documented the revolt and footage was raw, and real-time. Even five years ago, the likelihood of these events gaining international attention as they were occurring would have been almost non-existent. But now social media gives individuals the unprecedented opportunity to hear and be heard by a global community in real-time. Even though news cameras weren’t always there to capture the protests, as long as there was a camera phone and an internet connection, the events could be shared with the world.
In fact, it is becoming more common for breaking news events to be reported first through the use of social media outlets – the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was spreading across Facebook and Twitter long before it was officially announced on any of the major news networks.
People are using social media to connect with others in a geographic area, fighting a similar battle, or supporting a unified cause and broadcast it to the world at large. Anyone with a mobile phone or computer can share a story and gain support for their cause.
How are you using social media to build momentum, mobilize and take action?