Digital Activism

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Photo CC by Oxfam International

One ability that technology provides everyone with access to is a soapbox.  With just one tweet, I can bring awareness of an issue to all of my followers.  With just one Facebook status update, I can let the whole world know of a local event and what they can do to help.  I can like a post to show my support and encourage others to do the same.  I can do all of this, and more, from the convenience of my couch.  And I can do all of this as a 20-year-old college student with no political background.  Or, if you’re 15 and dedicated to helping others, like Gabby Frost, you can start a social media movement.  Project Buddy was such a great idea and it has helped thousands.  By asking simple personality questions, the project pairs people with similar interests up who are going through tough times.  I think there should be similar connecting networks around (and maybe there are and I’m just not aware of them) that exist for everyone – whether they have a strong support system or not.  For instance, when I teach, I would love to connect students from different grades who would have never ended up meeting otherwise.  By using a system like Project Buddy, a teacher could help students from different social groups meet and discover that they have similar interests.  Technology gives us the power to do this – a power we used to never have.  A message can get out to more people and at a faster rate than it ever could before.  Before, someone rallying in the street could reach a few hundred people in a day.  Now, someone rallying on the internet can reach a few thousand, million, or even billion people.  It’s not always for the better (which is why we must teach young people early on to be wise about what they post and to be aware of digital citizenship) but with the right people and the right message, a few believers can transform into a world of believers. With patience and determination, one person can shape overall public opinion and call others to action.  In Gabby Frost’s Project Buddy, not only are those with mental health issues helped, but awareness and attention are being brought to mental health issues.  There is no limit to how digital activism can impact the world, and I am so glad that we got to learn about it this week.

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