Awareness or Activism?

In today’s world, we are all (well most) social media savvy, right?

Social media alike everything has critiques however we must appreciate this platform as a means of positive influence over peoples lives. Many of us are on social media for different reasons, including friends and family, professionally or just for fun!

I know my mum doesn’t even understand the concept that you may be ‘friends’ with people on Facebook even though you maybe just know them briefly OR that if you try to zoom on Instagram you might actually end up liking that persons post. Mums for you. But other than my mum not being so savvy, the rest of us are!

Fun Fact: At the beginning of 2017, the total number of social media users in the UK had reached over 39 million users, with estimates going up to 42 million users. (Statista, 2017)

This astonishing fact has ought to mean something; at least that social media is doing something right, or even the users, us?

Social media has been widely adapted by celebrities, bloggers and people in the spotlight. They tend to try and create a sense of community for their followers to ensure this keeps up, although many are willing to share experiences that will empower others around them.

Recently on This Morning (favourite morning show ever) a star from Coronation Street, Sacha Parkinson, spoke out about her battle with ‘Endometriosis”. This was such an inspiring conversation she had reinforcing all girls to listen to their bodies.

Click here to watch this short clip.

Not only did she voice this on national television, she followed up with several social media posts and stories.

This to me has extremely positive effects on some lives encouraging girls they are not alone. Along with this it probes real discussion about issues that should be addressed and not hidden. Social media can help us to teach each other in a way that could never have been possible before now.

Lets appreciate that!

There were many movements on social media in 2017 that have actually caused some social change, or should I say were successful lobbying tactics!

One that stood out in my mind was #WomensMarch. The main mission of this campaign to dismantle systems of oppression has left echoes for everyone to hear. Teresa Shook set up a Facebook page that essentially went viral overnight when 10,000 people responded the next morning. Wow!

From this campaign social media circulated knowledge through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Facebook became the hub of activity where everyone could contribute to this discussion and amazing cause. Real life activists got involved and turned this into a real life event.

Again, this reiterates the power of social media and its enormous impact globally.

K3

Social media can effectively portray an emotional appeal and reach out to many people with the click of a button. The emergence of digital media does have its downsides, but its positives are really too good to ignore.

Is social media activity becoming a substitute for actual activism?

This question is left unanswered. BUT, it certainly is becoming a main influence to people in power. With little propaganda attached it seems a more realistic approach and most definitely raises awareness.

Some argue a hashtag is not a movement, whilst some suggest social activism WILL spark change if done right!

“Sharing is the essence of social media!”

 

Katy McGuigan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/katymcguigan1/ and on Twitter @KatyMcGuigan2.