The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Activism moves to future through social network

By Dylan Bradley/ne news editor

Illustration by Hal Duncan
Illustration by Hal Duncan

NW student Sarina Moss is a member of the Student Government Association on her campus. Currently, the group is trying to raise epilepsy awareness through an epilepsy stroll.

But instead of going door to door, she just pulls out her phone.

“Right now, we’re using Facebook because you have to be sponsored, you have to raise $25,” she said. “You can basically share it on your wall or timeline and then people can go through that link.”

Student activism is no longer limited to pounding the pavement as social media gives a new face to an American tradition.

The methods used by students before the Internet and digital revolution still exist and have use today, but a new form of activism has emerged through social media.

Moss said that Facebook lets her spread the word and that not everyone has the time to get out and protest.

“It’s more effective than people give it credit,” she said. “People let their skepticism get in the way of their options.”

Twitter and Facebook are the two most recognized social media used for activism today with hashtags giving movements catchphrases that link users straight to the action and the share button blasting a cause to a potentially infinite number of people.

NW student Garrett Dodd used Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to support the Zeitgeist Movement by trying to start a chapter in Texas.

According to its website, the Zeitgeist Movement is a sustainability advocacy organization that conducts community-based activism and awareness through a network of global/regional chapters. The movement aims to address social problems the human species experiences globally and asserts that issues such as poverty, corruption, homelessness, war and starvation are born out of an outdated social structure as opposed to institutional corruption or a flaw in human nature.

“There wasn’t enough people to start it, and it costs funds, so I couldn’t do it,” Dodd said. “So it didn’t really work, but I did help them raise a little bit of money.”

Despite his mixed results, he does think that social media is more effective than rallies or protests.

“It’s like shouting at a brick wall,” he said. “It doesn’t do anything at all. It’s just our right, and people think it’s going to do something.”

In the past, that shouting has helped change laws and shape society during the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

TR student Damon Carver is the outreach coordinator for Trinity River Equality in Education and is the Fort Worth organizer for getequaltx.org. However, he is skeptical about social media’s effectiveness.

“I want equality, and I want it now,” he said. “I will not tweet it from a cozy hipster Starbucks sipping a venti-icky-sweet-soy-entitlement latte.”

He is most concerned with people being completely engaged and doesn’t think reading a post in a feed does the job.

“Is the click-share changing your opinions enough for you to engage in your new opinions, enough that you get out and you put your foot down and say that’s not right, that you actually leave your computer, shut your laptop and get on your feet and go out there and say something about it with a picket sign? That’s complete engagement,” he said.

Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, a black lesbian couple, were killed in early March, and  Carver helped organize a vigil on Facebook.

Thirty people indicated they would attend, but only two people actually came.

Carver said he felt embarrassed and betrayed by the Fort Worth community. But with activism, success isn’t always measured by the numbers.

The numbers seem to reflect Carver’s experience.

A study done in February by students from University of California, the University of North Carolina and the London School of Economics and Political Science focused on the “Save Darfur Cause.”

The report said that Facebook is less useful as a mobilization tool but more effective as a marketing tool. It allowed more than 1 million individuals to register their discontent but largely failed to transform those initial acts into a deep and sustained commitment to the work.

“It boils down to not how many people attended,” Carver said, “but how many people were affected by it.”

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