By Brooke Harrington, Trending Writer
Approximately 5 times a day I see an open political protest where people are enraged over the economy, the climate, or social justice. I hear the roar of their opinions screaming at me, all through the black mirror, all through a screen. Modern political protest is driven through the internet and social media, as people do not need to be around others to have an outlet for their views or a politically driven argument. Online groups have allowed people to overcome well-known obstacles to participation in protest – such as time constraints, lack of skills, and low income. Online movements let people choose when to click and when to participate. Participation is encouraged in small ways, such as through a “please share if you agree” statement or a “sign petition here” hyperlink.
Education is a huge benefit of internet protesting. With instant access, people can search and understand any point of view in the political climate. Education has allowed for people to know more about their own cause and argue their points in an intellectual fashion. Savvy social movements have used this “education” model by creating videos and other types of posts that show the purpose and benefit of supporting their cause. This again leads to small acts of participation as many people will share, like, comment, or even donate to the cause after simply seeing one video. For example, the #MeToo movement began on Facebook and became a worldwide phenomenon. Celebrities participated in the movement through their own social media, and this allowed for many people to be reached and have a large amount of advocacy for women’s rights. Another way social media has been used is to gain momentum for philanthropic protest. For example, years ago the #IceBucketChallenge showed that philanthropy is not just something for the rich and elite, but something the whole world can partake in.
As amazing as technology is and how it has changed the world, there are still some opinionated-driven individuals that tend to jump on a political bandwagon without even understanding what they are talking about. This has caused many “outbreaks” of protest on the internet. For example, millions of arguments one may see on the bottom of a Facebook post may just go on and often do not make much sense. As much as technology has allowed for education, there has also been a blind side to internet protest, as many will just start arguing without even knowing what they are speaking about.
Social media uprisings can truly change the world. They start movements, access billions of people, and become a talking point of the day on the news if relevant enough. Overall, the internet has been truly beneficial to activist groups as it has allowed for them to have an outlet and gain a huge following that they may not have acquired had it not been for technology.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 13th print edition.
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