What a time to be alive. You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the social, political and cultural tensions in the United States today—with the madness of the 2016 presidential election, and with the rise of awareness and solidarity with various social movements and organizations like Black Lives Matter or NoDAPL we find ourselves in the middle a very progressive and tense time in human history. Recently, it seems that everything is happening all at once, that the world is more violent today than it ever was before. Though before, the news was not nearly as accessible as it is today. The media only had means of reaching us from our television sets, but not today. Today we can access the world entirely from our mobile devices.
News from all around the world is more accessible and discoverable due to the advent of the web, mobile devices and most recently due in part to social media. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 68% of adult American’s own a smart phone (1). Furthermore, approximately 78% of Americans have a social media profile as of 2016—and this is a growing statistic (2). Recently, we have seen how social media is revamping the ways in which we digest our news. A shocking 50% of social media users share/repost news events on their personal pages and profiles, creating a whole new wave of reporters and activists, changing the way in which news travels. (3) Suddenly news stories are harder for mainstream media to suppress because people are able to capture and share in real-time. In another Pew Research study, they found that 14% of social networking site users post their own photos of a news event and 12% of users post their own videos of a new event (3).
“Alton Sterling Shooting: Homeless man made 911 call.”
“Dakota Access Pipeline Protest in North Dakota Turn Violent,”
“Attacker Convicted in Hate Crime On Transgender Woman in Brooklyn”.
These are the headlines of our reality, just a sliver of what is happening out there in the world today, and they are being reported by people like you and I. These national and global tensions are happening all around the world. Luckily, we the users can post and share these otherwise under-the-rug events—and the news will travel fast. Getting a news story to trend on social media is the new activism, a more accessible kind of activism. It brings unbiased news from the source, uncensored to the masses.
Many will criticize this new Digital Activism, even though there is definitely an argument to be made for it. Perhaps this new activism is behind the keys of a monitor screen, but it is still raising awareness, nonetheless. In the same way that social media users are posting their own photos and videos can we as artists, writers, etc. join a cause. How lucky are we, that we can share our work with a simple press of the “upload” and “share” button? If freedom of speech is really an American right, let us exercise this right. #DigitalActivism