DISRUPTIVE

Hash Tag #Social Media as it Revolutionized Activism

Image by: Meghan Rutherford, Flickr Creative Commons

Image by: Meghan Rutherford, Flickr Creative Commons

Activism has forever changed in the face of social media.  This is no new aha, as we’ve seen our society evolve during the paradigm shift brought forth by new media technologies. Communication has become more intricate and expansive, and with its evolution comes the power to galvanize individuals around a shared cause.  In the same vain of expansiveness, the pursuit of human liberties has reverberated through our global culture, as stories 8,000 miles away suddenly feel close to home.  Actions abroad have ignited supporters at home, bringing the global village closer together as a force to be reckoned with.  We saw how social media came into great play with the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.  And now, Turkey and Brazil are in the limelight, as we again bear witness to resurgence in activism.

Image by: Meghan Rutherford, Flickr Creative Commons

Image by: Meghan Rutherford, Flickr Creative Commons

 

The digital layer of activism today has created an opportunity for invention and creative problem solving to come into light. Besides using networked sites like Facebook to coordinate the masses, or enlisting Twitter as the mouthpiece for citizen journalism, today’s digitally enabled activists are disrupting the conventional order of protests as we know it.

An inspiring example came into focus in the wake of the OccupyGezi movement.  For those unfamiliar with the current socio-political state of Turkey, the tale is a fight for freedom.  What began as initial protests led by fervent environmentalists in opposition to the government’s decision to replace the historic Taksim Square with a shopping mall complex became the spark for a much greater cause.  Millions congregated, to fight for their rights, or as the Turkish coined it “chapulling” in the name of personal freedoms.   As word of these protests travelled across the Atlantic, a Turkish trio and self-proclaimed ‘tech geeks’ watched the discourse spread like wildfire in social media spheres.  A gap in coverage of the events began to emerge – while social media had proliferated the news, traditional sources like the Turkish press fell silent.  In search for a symbolic way to bring the current events to life in the face of press silence, the three launched the fastest major political funding campaign through crowd-funding website Indiegogo.

Image by: Meghan Rutherford, Flickr Creative Commons

Image by: Meghan Rutherford, Flickr Creative Commons

 

The trio ignited the group effort to buy a full-page print ad in the New York times that could be shared via social media worldwide.  Tweets linking to campaign grew exponentially, as the campaign went viral.  According to Forbes, the campaign received donations from 50 countries and surpassed its goal for $53,800 in 21 hours. Furthermore, in true democratic fashion the trio opened up submissions for the ad, crowdsourcing digital work by designers. The copy for the ad was written in Google Docs in a transparent and collaborative effort with up to twenty people defining the cause. Furthermore, a vote was brought to table as the final submission became a symbol of a true collective, democratic effort.

 

In this movement, we see how social media has revolutionized the way that activism permeates our world. In a society that believes digital bore a new form labeled ‘slacktivism’ (for those who simply informed of causes), we see how even this sect can spur action starting in digital world and changing our physical world.

 

To see the ad featured in the NY Times, click here.

If you’re curious what’s happening with the additional funds, check out Reddit.

 

Written by: Gabriela Colletta @gabolletta