Social media activism vital for change

What do you call pink, red and white all over? My Facebook feed last week, and apparently, mine wasn’t the only one.

A day before the Supreme Court was slated to hear arguments on two cases related to same-sex marriage on March 26, the Human Rights Campaign unveiled a modification of its normally blue and yellow logo.

The red and pink alteration took off immediately after it was posted. Approximately 2.7 million changed their profile picture to the symbol, according to The Daily Beast.

Will this have an effect on the Justice’s opinions? No, but it does offer an interesting outlook on how social media draws upon the relative “activism” of the users.

Malcom Gladwell wrote an opinion article in 2010 in The New Yorker titled “Small change” with the subhead “Why the revolution will not be tweeted.” He writes, “…Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.”

I agree that the minute movements that correspond with liking a post or sharing a photo are no “real sacrifice,” but that does not mean that something so small as a group of people changing their profile photo has no real substance.

Tumblr, a social blogging platform where a running joke is the users’ unwillingness to go outside, is home to constantly circulating petitions and informational posts that are reblogged only for the “signal boost,” an attempt to make sure that the post reaches a wider audience.

The mass alteration of profile photos did just that. During the week of March 25, I had multiple friends come up to me and ask me what the deal was with everyone changing their logos.

Is it safe to generalize and say that without the Facebook campaign, certain groups of individuals would not have known about the Supreme Court case and would not have become subsequently “involved” with either side of the issue? Yes.

But it lends no helping hand to getting the Defense of Marriage Act or Proposition 8 repealed, and it certainly does not do anything to address the fact that in 29 states it is legal to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the HRC. (Nor does it give a voice to the “silent T” of LGBT)

The number of re-tweets, likes and comments an online trend has garnered are included in the majority of media coverage where that information is applicable. For now, this will be the importance of social media activism: amplifying the “revolution” to the point where it has no choice but to enter the mainstream consciousness.

Hopefully, being put in the spotlight will get this event, and all future events, the attention they need to bring about change.

(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)
(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)