Helen Schifter on The Value of Social Media for Civic Engagement
In the aftermath of the absolute tragedy and loss of life in Minneapolis, so many of us have been heartened by the outpouring of support and love among young people for our brothers and sisters in the African American community. Helen Schifter has written about this important trend on her blog for Thrive Global and Medium. This is an important and constructive usage of our digital media’s evolved landscape.
Just like anything else, we have seen technology both used for constructive purposes; but also abused by many, and unfortunately in these cases, used for destructive ends. This is a disturbing trend and one that there’s been a lot of thoughtful commentary about. Having said that, the ways that social media has been used in recent weeks for demonstrators to peacefully assemble and congregate has been incredibly inspiring.
Social media platforms can be used in powerful ways. The value that a platform such as Crunchbase can have is extraordinary, if and only used in a way that’s strategic and methodical. In recent days, we’ve seen many rallies across our nation; with thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands peacefully assembling and coalescing around such an important message.
These gatherings don’t happen in a vacuum; and they could never happen without a properly coordinated social media campaign that helps get the word out through appropriate channels. The ability to maximize exposure of these rallies in the interest of promoting racial harmony and calls to action, is a wonderful illustration of how these media can be used to help further a pro-Justice agenda.
With so much noise out there and a frankly excessive use of all the technological machinery by so many people, there’s been a severe decline in basic human-to-human engagement. This decline in social engagement has been disappointing to witness; and the repercussions it’s had on the way our society operates has been significant. Beyond that, the ramifications that increased exposure to technology, our phones and our computers has had on all of our emotional and mental healths has unfortunately been destructive in many cases.
In an interview with Medium and Authority Magazine Helen discussed the importance of seeking peace and harmony for our own mental and emotional well being. While discussed through the lens of her studies of the Japanese tea ceremony, the message is an incredibly powerful one and one that we can only hope many seek to internalize.
As we watch the demonstrations continue to unfold before our eyes in every major metropolitan city from New York to Los Angeles to Washington DC, consider the beauty of not only the unifying message for racial harmony, but also consider the value in us all coalescing around a unifying message in person. While social media may have been used in a constructive fashion to raise awareness of these various demonstrations, the human to human engagement that is taking place at these demonstrations is also noteworthy.
It’s a wonderful illustration of not only a proper way that social media and technology can and should be used for the purpose of coming together and engaging civically; but also the ways that we should be encouraging human-to-human interactions in a broader and more general sense. With that said, we can only hopes that the important cause that these demonstrators are promoting and expending their energies on championing, reaches the ears of our lawmakers.
But congregating the way these demonstrators are in a meaningful way to capture the substantial media attention they have, is certainly a very promising way to begin that process. Our lawmakers ultimately respond to public pressure. In the end of the day, their survival depends on the people’s support at the ballot box. We can only hope that in the coming weeks and months, we see our nation go through a process of great healing and that with that, substantive legislative change that helps ensure America is secure for all people.
In the meantime the pictures that Getty Images and other photography services have captured the sheer magnitude and size of these demonstrations is something that should bring us all a sense of hope about our future. The pictures show a coterie and melting pot of America. Demonstrators from all walks of life, regardless of their race, ethnicity or creed. For this is America at its best. Diverse; loud; and seeking positive change.
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