+’S OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Georgia Geen

Subtweeters can still change the
world.
True, multitasking negatively affects
a student’s academic performance and
social media addiction is detrimental
(one study even linked it to an increased
risk of substance abuse, according to the
Huffington Post). However, the internet
and social media do provide benefits
that shouldn’t be ignored.
Although today print publications
are read less and less frequently that
doesn’t mean the general population is
less informed. As soon as a noteworthy
event occurs, major news providers like
CNN or even Buzzfeed send out a tweet
to millions of followers. And according
to an American Press Institute survey,
86 percent of Twitter users utilize the
site for news and 73 percent follow individual
journalists or commentators.
Even for those who don’t use the site
as a news source, the chances of any
Twitter feed being free of breaking news
is very slim. In this way, even those who
might have been apathetic are at least
being informed.
To an intellectual mind, the infinite
amount of online information is equivalent
to a Swiss army knife. When used
productively rather than for pleasure,
social media is a valuable resource.
Facebook played a crucial role in the
starting of the Egyptian revolution in
2010. The New York Times described
how Egyptian-born Wael Ghonim came
across a disturbing image of a man who
had been beaten to death by police in
Egypt. Ghonim then created a Facebook
page in opposition to the government,
which gained 250,000 members within
three months. He later became a speaker
for Arab Spring.
In short, one man’s social media creation
played a significant part in the
overthrowing of an oppressive government.
Today, anyone with unrestricted
internet access has the ability to make
his or her voice heard (which means
Twitter is an entertaining place during
election cycles).
Thanks to the internet, individuals
can create blogs to promote lesserknown
causes and create public discussion
on previously silenced issues.
Countless activist groups have been
created with the help of social media.
In 2013, the Human Rights Campaign
went viral when it challenged supporters
of marriage equality to change their
profile picture to the famous red and
pink equality sign. The digital movement
showed widespread support for
the cause and arguably was a factor in
the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize
gay marriage.
Hashtags have become an integral
part of social activism, with “#bringbackourgirls”
and “#yesallwomen” both
reaching internet prominence. The
Black Lives Matter movement originated
from a single hashtag in 2013 after
George Zimmerman was acquitted for
Trayvon Martin’s death. Today, there
are 23 chapters of the organization in
the U.S, Canada and Ghana (according
to vice.com).

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