For many of us, 2014 was an emotionally devastating year because of the seemingly continuous news stories of unarmed citizens falling victim to lethal police brutality. Many of us protested in 2014 and yet have not yet seen the change that wanted. So what are we going to do about it?
I propose that the use of social media as an instrument for activism will follow, if not already is, the same trajectory. Social media is one of the most powerful forms of activism, and (dare I say) a catalyst for change. Here's why.
Will the real activists please stand up? In a social-media crazed society, insignificant measures are seen as influential. A mere "RT" on a Twitter post, "like" on a Facebook status or "tag" on an Instagram photo has become the mechanism to create change.
Are tweets in different parts of the world taken more seriously than they are here? Do we get so many that we can barely pay attention to them as they fly in? What do we do with the information that we receive from tweets?
While true that "slacktavism," online bullying, and unprecedented threats to our privacy are challenges, few could argue that social media has not vastly facilitated political involvement. The results have been impressive, if not always as dramatic as the Arab Spring.
Slacktivism is often defined as merely a feel-good measure that requires little personal effort or sacrifice on the part of an individual that has little practical impact in actually helping the involved cause. But ignore slacktivism at your own peril.
Watching Kony 2012, I feel manipulated. I don't want to be coddled like a toddler or seduced by filmmaking strategies that appeal to my age demographic. I want to be challenged to understand the world differently.
Americans have lost faith in the responsiveness of government, abandoning the expectation that political activism gets results. But while bad politics have made a mockery of the political process, restoring it is a cause worth fighting for.
Long story short. Social media is an incredibly potent tool for spreading a powerful message, fast. But what did the anti-Kony team do to turn their movement into such a social media tsunami? And how can we harness their experience to accelerate sustainability action?
The Internet not only narrows the participation gap between young and old, it lends a powerful platform to a typically quiet constituency -- we've grabbed the bullhorn and, all of a sudden, our agenda is beginning to resonate.
The first Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference touched on issues like Internet access, freedom of speech, and corporate responsibility, but mostly just made clear that this is only the beginning of the digital rights conversation.