This weeks reading was a super read from Malcom Gladwell, check it out here (Click on the New Yorker Article)
It is an interesting question to consider whether social media can foster activism or if it is really real-life relationships, and the drama that comes with passionate, in your face and in the media, high risk activism?
The point of this article is that social media tools like Facebook and Twitter use weak ties to effect change versus the old fashioned high risk activism associated with strong ties. I thought these were valid points but at some point wouldn’t the sheer size and density of the weak tie connections of Twitter and Facebook deliver the power equivalency of the strong tie, grass roots activism that Gladwell is referring to? I see that there is strength in both the numbers and in the transparency that social media tools can deliver on. They can deliver the real world events, exactly when and how they are unfolding for all to see. These are the changes that social media tools have bought to activism. This is how they have added value. When abuse of political power by dictatorships and authoritarian governments is revealed there is usually always on-the-ground footage of activists who are still putting themselves at risk – the weak ties of social media is diffusing that information to the western democracies who can then express their collective outrage to bring change. It is true that social media tools, make it easier to organize, and that they distance risk from the activists in many cases, but they are effective in helping to bring change. That is ultimately the end goal that is the focus for activists. Additionally, somewhere, behind all the weak ties, there is a group of strong-tie organizers and undoubtedly leaders standing united, physically proximate, in- arms to create the diffusion necessary with social media.
I really liked this critic on Gladwell’s piece and wanted to share.
Credit to Google Images for the pix