With cell phone cameras recording and photos being taken of the Los Angeles Police Department's every move, hundreds were evicted from City Hall. All while Occupy L.A. protesters chanted "The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!" I've never heard such truer words.
With the multitude of social media users and their access to thousands of other people online, in matters of seconds, you're literally "watching" events like this unfold right before your eyes. You get news on the frontline all without ever turning on your television or radio. And you're connecting to friends and family without picking up your telephone. It's beyond what any of us could have imagined and it's been welcomed by Latinos with open arms.
There was a time when our voices didn't matter. Change was slow and we were often left unheard. Today, things are different, thanks to social media. I've never witnessed a more opportune time for using interactive online tools to voice our opinions. Imagine the changes and connections that could have been made if Cesar Chavez had a Twitter account.
But, it's more than social networking, it's about sharing information. I've always seen us as "word of mouth" people. Spreading our likes and dislikes to friends and family members without hesitation. How many times have you not purchased an item based solely because someone you trust had something negative to say about it? It's apparent that influence is the key word here.
As someone immersed in the Latino blogging community, we are specifically sought out because we are Latinos. Brands and companies know the potential influence and reach we have. Do me a favor and Google "Latinos using social media" and you'll get over 3 million hits. I think they're on to us.
Maybe it's all the research that's been done in the past few years. According to Pew Research Center, 65% of Hispanics were online in 2010. While 58% used their cell phones to access the internet, email, text, or instant message. It's apparent our communities are growing and the statistics are rising. It's no wonder we've been influencing everything from politics, education, fashion, immigration, and lifestyle choices through this medium.
And when used correctly, social media will do more than let our voices be heard, it can also transform the way people view us. There are so many negative stereotypes of Latinos in the media today. And unfortunately, there are still those who refuse to change their views.
That's where organizations like Latinos is Social Media (LATISM) come in. As the largest organization for Latinos using social media, they are dedicated to advancing the social, civic, and economic status of the Latino community. Positive and empowering groups like these are needed as examples of how we can use social media for social good. They use quick and effective tools like blogging campaigns, Twitter parties, and Facebook to promote their cause. It's a new outlook on an old concept.
No matter what your opinion is on social media, the world and technology will continue to evolve. Latinos and our place in this world will change. We can only continue to prove everyone wrong and use the tools we have to let our voices be heard. The future is literally in our hands.