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The Importance of Social Media in the Activist Movement


Social media has developed over the years to present a platform in which interaction has increasingly been made easier. The interaction that arises from the use of social media has made the sharing and access to information easier every waking day (Porter par. 3). A Facebook post shared by one person can quickly go viral, a hash tag on Twitter can push a message far beyond previously imagined, a picture on Instagram can easily rally a reaction from thousands of individuals (Taib 6). This essay aims at discussing the nature of social media, connectivity and access to information that has provided an ideal environment for activism and revolution.

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Activism and Revolution

Activism denotes the concept of seeking wide support for a particular cause or view, mostly in the public domain and with a view of promoting public interest. In most cases, it involves seeking to compel the government to take some decisive action that is viewed as being in the interest of the public or an attempt to compel the government to desist from performing an act that is viewed as being against the public interest. A revolution can be viewed as more intense form of activism, trying to change the status quo, either government or system, through a rigorous process, mostly violent (Taib 2).

By the very nature of activism and revolution, therefore, it is important that enough support be rallied for the cause in question. This is because activism and revolutions have the underlying mission of driving a democracy. Democracy as a concept is one that depends largely on the majority rules principle. Without the requisite numbers, an attempt at activism or revolution would undoubtedly fail. This is where social media comes in (Eltantawy and Wiest 1207).

Mechanics of Social Media Activism and Revolution

Social media plays an influential role in enabling activism and driving revolution. This is because Cyber activism has witnessed exponential growth due to the fact that it can bring people together for the achievement of a common goal (Porter par. 7). This aspect of social media makes it ideal for the purposes of pushing for activism and revolution.

This is achieved through, first and foremost, the provision of an excellent opportunity for ideas to be expressed. These ideas then morph into movements that result into concrete action. Secondly, it enables like-minded individuals to identify each other and come together for purposes of seeking to achieve a common goal (Eltantawy and Wiest 1027).

This allows them to come together and have the strength in numbers. Finally, social media enables the constant sharing of information, for example, details of meetings and demonstrations that enable activism and revolution to become a reality, moving from the sphere of cyber activism and revolution to an actual, on the ground event. In the movement to protest the Iraq war, for example, the ultimate millions who came together to protest were groups from far and wide on account of the coordination and sharing of information on social media (Eltantawy and Wiest 1208)

Drawback of Social Media as a Tool for Revolution and Activism

While social media has undoubtedly played a huge role in the area of activism and revolution as evidenced by the happenings of the Arab spring, it has one major drawback. This drawback is the fact that many of the people who may claim to be supporting the movement online may not come out to support the movement since it is much easier to click away at one’s computer screen (Porter par. 8).

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The role of social media in initiating, sustaining and enabling the success of activism activities, as well as revolutionary activities, cannot be understated. This platform has become increasingly influential and should not be ignored. Its role in the Arab spring, especially, should serve as a template for just how influential social media is (Eltantawy and Wiest 1219). Its use should, for this reason, be regulated to ensure that it is used for the public good and not for evil.

Works Cited

Eltantawy, Nahed and Wiest, Julie 2011, Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution: Reconsidering Resource Mobilization Theory. International Journal of Communications 5.

Porter, Nathan. 2013. Social Media Stew Plays Potent Role in Global Digital Activism. The Washington Times. 2013.

Taib, Mohamed 2006, Meaning of Social Activism. The Reading Group.

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