Using Social Media for Social Change, Are you?

Posted on July 10, 2010 in Specials

By Shhravya Rav:

Media has since long played a pivotal role in educating the masses, lest we should have drowned in the darkness of ignorance. Similarly, the advent of social media is, by many, seen as a renaissance of sorts. It has taken information sharing to a different height. The march of social media to the forefront is indeed a positive sign for the communications industry.

Social media makes use of the many online technologies, in order to involve the reader/ viewer in the information sharing process. Blogs, microblogs, video & image sharing, internet forums, e-mails, search engines pervade the domain of information sharing and exchange. A two-way communication channel characterizes social media. In the traditional media, the flow of news is unidirectional, and big media houses own, run & make news. In social media, however, anybody can participate & share what they know. This phenomenon takes the whole merit in social media gaining such immense popularity. Sites like Youtube; blog platforms such as WordPress and LiveJournal; social networking sites, which include the popular Twitter, Facebook and Orkut; internet encyclopedia like the Wikipedia; search engines such as Google, Yahoo! Answers, and many more, can be stated as some of the classic examples of social media.

Social Media is spontaneous. It is accessible, & most importantly, it has a wider reach. All these characteristics have contributed to its popularity. ‘Communication made easy’-is the adage which social media is based on. Year by year, its usage keeps increasing multifold, thereby being more efficient and instrumental in bringing about a change.

The best thing about social media is that it has no geographic limitations. This has immensely helped to get people connected. There has been an exchange of thoughts among people of different regions, religions and races. It has projected a new world with no boundaries or barricades but with infinite possibilities and opportunities. Social media has seen people come together to discuss, ideate, and act. This has by far been the most promising change brought about by social media.

Social media has helped to address a wide spectrum of global issues as well. There was an active online discussion of global warming and its disastrous effects, during the recently concluded Copenhagen Meet. The 26/11 attacks have also received tremendous attention in the media circles. Of late people have become well informed & vigilant towards various issues concerning AIDS and cancer, thanks to the initiative of the social media and continuous effort put in.

Coming closer home, we have our share of grave matters that crave for immediate attention. Corruption, illiteracy and poverty occupy the whole space. However, issues like corporal punishment, woman rights, and rights of the marginalized sections of people in northeastern states, have also crept in. The famous Pink Chaddi Campaign had seen many women raising their voice against the ‘moral police’. Their angst had had spread like wild fire. They were successful in striking the cord with fellow men across the country.

Recently, requests have been doing rounds among Facebook users to support the cause ‘Save Our Tigers’. Felicitating and organizing meaningful discussions and engaging the members in a conversation, has put the power and potential of social media to good use. We have had the youth debating upon national issues like reservation a few years ago, on websites like ‘Youth for Equality.’ Youngsters from across the nation had come together and had taken out a procession. It had indeed become a movement. It was for a change for a better India.

It is not just a conversation, social media has attempted at something more than that. It has gone beyond discussion & prompted action. It has entered into a more intense, and result-oriented territory. It is time, we adequately acknowledged the role of social media for making us sit upright and ponder, for the revolution it has stirred, and more importantly, for its endeavor to bring about the change we have all dreamt for.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Social media has certainly emerged as one of the most popular and impactful tools to create awareness. Youth Ki Awaaz is also a social media based journalism outfit that aims at social change.