My final!

The advent of the Internet has had such a monumental effect on the world that no one can imagine or comprehend what life would be like without it. Though it began as something of curio, a thing which only scientists and other such types used to aide one another in their work, by the 90’s anyone with a home computer (also a new development) could gain access to it. However, the Internet would languish for the decade as something of a cult (not in the religious sense of the word) item. It was (and I’m being a bit glib and oversimplifying, I know) basically a place for Trekkies and sci-fi/fantasy nerds who wanted to interact, exchange trivia, etc. Not until the mid 2000’s did the Internet explode into the form that we know it today, and social media came soon after. With the advent of social media, a new and exciting platform of social change is now available for virtually anyone who has an idea, a cause, or the desire to change the world.

This may sound obvious, but anyone who wishes to use social media as a platform to create social change must actu

Harrison hard at work

ally choose the kind of social change they wish to make, form an organization (or perhaps choose an organization to assist as we did in our class), and then you can develop a strategy to make change using the organization of your making (or choosing). Take Scott Harrison, the founder of the non-profit organization charity: water. Before starting the organization, Scott Harrison

took part in charitable organizations in Africa that brought to light the issues that charity: water seeks to deal with (i.e. the dearth of clean water, irrigation, and plumbing in various villages in the developing world). This is a bit more difficult than you might imagine at first, since it’s best to choose causes that are the most conducive to social media. For example, charity: water makes ex

tensive use of video sharing software such as Youtube and the slightly more ritzy and sophisticated website, Vimeo, as well as picture sharing software such as Flickr. This is great for charity: water’s purposes because they can increase awareness of their mission by showing the conditions in the villages they wish to assist. Step back and think how your cause can be serviced through social media, then move on to strategy.

After deciding your cause and establishing or forming a relationship with the organization of your choosing, you can begin developing your strategy. If you’re not familiar with how social media works and the ways in which you can use it to promote causes and organizations, it’s not very difficult to grasp. By thinking of yourself as a brand to be advertized, you can more easily comprehend how to use social media to advertize and promote your organization or cause, only this ti

The face of despair.

me you’re advertizing something other than yourself. This, along with the initial decision about what cause you choose to support/start/what have you is all part of taking the lead, or at least my concept of taking the lead. When you take the lead, that’s when you must prepare for the things that we’ve experienced in our class. If you’re using social media to assist an organization, the

main thing you should prepare for is disappointment. This sounds like doomsaying, but it’s a fact. Ask anyone who had to deal with Rotary St. Louis.Some people will be technophobic, and you must prepare for their technophobia, stubbornness, and lack of vision.

Quite frankly, this course helped me to take the lead by teaching me the very things I talked about above.  This knowledge has empowered me by making me feel as though I could take part in serious, worthwhile social change (TEDxSJU will happen!), and even though setbacks may occur, the effort and the learning process is the important part. I always thought of sociaFacebook status leads to interactionl media as a way for regular people to make simple social connections, and without this course I don’t think I would have developed such a complex and nuanced understanding of social media and its uses. For one thing, I probably never would have known what a social object was, let alone how it was relevant to any kind of social theory. I never would have learned that Facebook statuses (like the one at right) could be a social object (it is made a social object through the interaction that has taken place, and thus is given value), and though this course taught me the harsh realities of consultation work and event organization, the positive things it taught me are much more valuable. I doubt anything could have helped me more.

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~ by frankmc5 on December 16, 2010.

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