As I sit in my warm bedroom with piping hot tea, my laptop on and my phone unlocked, I sit with every social media I have an account on open. Twitter and Facebook are constantly being refreshed and my laptop is making noises with the notifications flooding through. I refreshed Instagram a whole ten minutes ago, and I uploaded a photo to Snapchat probably about an hour ago. In 2016, social media is everywhere.
As a 20 year old university student, I live and breathe social media and one thing I can say is that I don’t know where I would be without it. Whilst myself and my peers’ dependency on social media for everyday life is almost certainly valued by the pioneers that brought us these technologies – the same social media platforms that I use to catch-up with news, friends and family have been used for the greater good by larger organisations and individual people who want to make a difference.
Relating specifically to ethical and sustainability issues – there are thousands of charities and movements that depend on and have relished the services that social media can provide to get their message heard. Citing a particular example, 38 Degrees are a British non-profit political activism organisation that intends to “campaign for fairness, defend rights, promote peace, preserve the planet and deepen democracy in the UK.” Their use of social media platforms (mainly Facebook and Twitter) have pushed government authorities to take a harder look at the ethical and sustainability issues the UK is facing, from fracking to benefits for those with disabilities. Their following is huge, with a quarter of a million likes on Facebook and almost 50,000 followers on their Twitter page. Their messages have not only reached those who have their posts pop up their news feed – their use of hashtags and comical memes mocking, more often than not, David Cameron, have pinpointed their goal and respect in the social media stratosphere for change.
Successful campaigns like 38 Degrees have been mirrored in other instances, including Cancer Research with the #nomakeupselfie campaign, a movement that persuaded women to take a photo of themselves without any make-up on and upload it to Facebook or Twitter, then donate once they had. Not only did the general public get involved, but celebrities did too, and the campaign raised £8,0000,0000 in one week and empowered women all over the country to be themselves, and be happy with themselves. These success stories stand as a token to the power of social media and despite the negativity surrounding social media, it’s hard not to let the positives outweigh the negatives.
Sustainability issues around the world are right in-front of our eyes, some of us are making the efforts to alter these issues and others are simply only seeing a hashtag pop up on Twitter of an afternoon – but what needs to be understood is that this is enough. In 2016, social media is easily one of the most accessible platforms of expression and if the means are there for a post or a movement to be seen, it will be seen by a wider audience. Having a Facebook account allows you to access and share a video from a charity proposing a plan to make a change to the world – once this is seen by your friends, the list of those who are aware of these great charities grows and grows. It drives motivation and interest from people of all ages, with the freedom to say what you want about an issue and more than likely (what am I talking about, DEFINITELY) have it debated by one of your peers who doesn’t feel the same way you do.
My argument is, how can anyone see a platform that drives change and community like this as a bad thing? The age of social media is still upon us and is not going anywhere, and luckily, organisations and individual people have pioneered in ways to make the best of the media we have been provided with and ensure that they are the reason social media is such a vital port-of-call in any campaign.
If there are causes you believe in, you can do you part to help them by boosting their signal and sharing their posts; use your people power to make a difference to a bigger cause. All it takes is two clicks!
by student blogger, Amanda Elliott