Tag Archives: digital activism

Kids Care…Do You?

My 16-year old daughter texted me this morning letting me know she was likely participating in a walk-out from school. This did not surprise me, she’s walked out to join protests before in support of Black Lives Matter and/or in protest of police brutality. She has taken part in a push for her former middle school to change its name (which it did!) and protested a dress code that she viewed as sexist, leading to discussions with school administration on a more equitable dress code. This time when I asked her what for she simply said, “the environment.” I then heard rumblings at work that students from one of our other high schools were all leaving after 2nd period and heading to the capitol building to participate in the International Youth Climate Strike event. So, I googled exactly what that was.

How did I not hear about this prior to this morning? Has my head been in the clouds? Have I been too distracted by work, school, and my flooded basement? How has this world-wide strike been coordinated and the first I hear of it is when my teenager texts me that she is joining it? Granted, I do not use Snapchat or whatever other apps the younger generation are using. I am “old,” so I use Facebook. The Guardian is giving live updates showing strikes, marches, and protests from around the world. There is a float of 16-year-old Nobel peace prize nominee Greta Thunberg in Sweden. There are kids in school uniforms protesting outside of parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. The protests in London took local police by surprise as they headed towards Buckingham Palace and chanted “we want change” in front of the Queen’s residence.  You can read the live updates here.

This movement, the way that the strikes were organized, and their central push to create “system change, not climate change” is tied in so well to what Manuel Castells speaks about in his book “Networks of Outrage and Hope.” In this article by Sophie Sleeman she talks about how this social movement is forming via social media and how social movements like this are “redefining political space and challenging the idea that social media platforms are only uncontrollable forces beyond our control.” Instead, she declares, they are being used to change the world.

Students in Ukraine hold signs that say, “Make My Planet Great Again” and “Don’t Burn Our Future.” In Poland, a large polluter, they hold signs that say, “Without plastic it’s fantastic.” In London they went heavy on the signage with some of them questioning why they are being forced to study for a future they will not even have if climate change continues at the rate it currently is.

London school climate strikes

What is it going to take to get the adults in positions of leadership to act with the urgency our youth is demanding? We cannot take small, incremental steps towards change or continue to act like it is something that can wait for the next decade, the next administration, or the next legislative session to tackle. Scientists around the world agree that we are either at or near a point of no return related to climate change. Some argue that we can no longer stop a 2-degree increase in global warming, and instead argue we need to do everything in our power to mitigate going beyond that. Others are still hoping we can stop it at 1.5 degrees although now that the U.S. has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, as one of the largest consumers in the world, I am not sure how likely that is.

Our youth, our kids, our grand-kids will be the ones who will see and live through the effects of the decisions that we are making right now. Aside from taking on these tips for reducing our own carbon footprint, we need to consider a person’s views on environmental policy when deciding who to vote for, put pressure on elected officials already in office, and vote those out who are not voting in the best interest of this earth’s future. Saving this planet must start with us, our kids are begging us – will we listen?

 

19 Years.

weapon-violence-children-child-52984.jpegToday marks 19 years since the Columbine High School shootings. But what was once shocking became a regular occurrence. How could we have ever known where this state of gun violence would end up?

In this final post in my three part series, I want to share my story with my peers, the rest of the Xenials/Millenials. A story of shock, inaction, repeated shock, inaction, indifference, and hope.

Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook.

I was a senior in high school when Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold went on a 51 minute shooting spree in their high school that ended up with 13 dead and 21 injured. The school year was almost over and I was looking forward to graduation in June. Life was pretty great in our sheltered pre-9/11 world where my biggest concern was what dress to wear to prom.

And in less than an hour, that innocence was taken away. I’d lived through the Oklahoma City bombing and Operation Desert Storm, but this was different. This could have been me.

As most tragedies go, the focus sadly shifts from the victims to the shooters in a very short amount of time. Why did they do it? Was it video games? Goth culture? Were they outcasts taking revenge? Even I pushed aside what happened as the news shifted to the shooters and then, when the 20/20 specials ran out of new content, moved on.

Several years later, with Virginia Tech, the same thing happened to me. Shock, anger, obsession, apathy. Then Sandy Hook, then countless others, and I stopped even being shocked.

My generation failed, big time. We could have been the ones who said enough with the thoughts and prayers. Do something. Stop this now. But we forgot. Moved on.

And then an old friend of mine got shot last year in Las Vegas. When he healed, I still did nothing.

Today kids walked out of class in solidarity to ask for gun reform. This culture of gun violence that gets normalized by the older generations with the thoughts and prayers has stopped with them. Why now? What makes them take action where their parents didn’t?

I truly believe that in addition to seeing their peers murdered on a regular basis, that social media has played an enormous role in their movement. Scott says “Your smartphone is all you need” and mentions the importance of Facebook Live (pp. 305-306). Though his writing is more in regards to marketing and PR, it still holds true for social movements. This generation grew up on social media, and they don’t hesitate to use it. Videos that are happening now, that are current, that are anything but what their parents would do to promote a cause. These kids can’t help but see what’s happening live all over the country, and the messages that spread so rapidly can create an urgency to act now.

Today, remembering Columbine, I still can’t help but feel a sense of guilt about my generation’s inaction. And yet I feel pride and hope and inspiration in these kids who have done what we failed to do. It’s not too late to join the fight.

#HandsOffSyria

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My audience for this blog post is my fellow students as well as other individuals looking to educate themselves on social media or social platforms.

Through my last two blog posts, I have written about how social media or any type of social platform can be used to not only spread awareness but to start a social movement as well. On Saturday, the U.S. decided to bomb Syria along with the U.K. and France. There were a variety of different responses to this attack but this sparked a new hashtag called Hands Off Syria. Through this hashtag, people are showing what Syria looked like before the seemingly endless war started as well as the problems with the long history of the U.S. creating their own terrorist attacks but not calling them that. This hashtag brings light into the horrible acts that have been orchestrated by the U.S. over the past decade. In order for something to stop, it needs to be discussed which is what is being generated by this platform.

Twitter allows for so many different people to share their opinions as well as find a commonality with others to spread awareness and even make a difference just as was mentioned by John Coate (1998) in “Cyberspace innkeeping: Building online community”. I hope by reading my last three blog posts, readers have been able to see change for their eyes themselves and understand the importance of social media as a different platform than the rest.

Benefits of social media

benefits-of-social-media-1024x446 (1)My goal for my second blog post is to switch gears from the dark side of social media in my last post to the light side. The second topic I would like to discuss is the benefits of social media. My audience for this posting would be anyone who uses social media, students and teachers in this class and companies or people who market or campaign through social media.

Whether we like to admit it ‘our’ generation eats, sleeps and breathes social media. It’s reach and popularity is without doubt. According to www.quantumrun.com, “It’s estimated that by 2018, 2.44 billion people will be using social networks.” Yes, this might not be the healthiest trend for us to participate in however, there can be benefits from this. As we rely more on technology the need for social media platforms increases. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Podcasts allow for instantaneous news coverage, access to limitless information and connects us with the world all within the click of the button.

The opportunities that social media can create are endless. With recent social and political issues being brought to the surface Twitter and Instagram can be used to create awareness by trending hashtags. They can also provide information and rally people for a cause such as creating a buzz agent for the Women’s Rights Marches, Black Lives Matter protests and Most recently the March For Your Lives. If you click on the hashtag or a tagged photos it will literally connect you with millions of other people who are supporting the same cause. What method of getting information out can literally beat that?

Chapter 17 in this weeks Scott reading discusses a newer tool in social media which is Podcasting. This is something I never used to care to listen to until I found an interesting Podcast that caught my attention. I see this platform continues to take off and joining the more well known ones.

Whatever social media platform you follow, the limitless benefits are undeniable.