Can Social Media Start a Revolution?

In the New Yorker this week, Malcolm Gladwell published a column, titled “Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted,” about the power and limitations of social media as an instrument of change. He argues that although social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become so popular and have been able to connect hundreds of thousands of people together, social media still fall short of good ‘ol fashioned activism.

Gladwell contends that the personal tie-ins, strategy and discipline involved in an effective and live demonstration cannot be replicated by social media. What Martin Luther King Jr required for his movement did not involve social media. Rather his nonviolent resistance and boycotts were high risk sacrifices that allowed little room for error. Gladwell scoffs that on the other hand “Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.”

As some of you may know, I’ve been working with two of my buddies, Jason and Eddie, on The Jubilee Project, an initiative that makes videos for a good cause. Our entire platform is based on the power of social media and tapping into Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as instruments of change. When I read Gladwell’s article today, it made me think about what we were doing with The Jubilee Project. I talked to Jason and Eddie, and we came up with two responses.

1. Sometimes a little sacrifice is better than no sacrifice: although people may not be laying down their lives at a boycott, we think that our videos can speak to the people who aren’t necessarily willing to make “real sacrifices” for a cause but are still interested in learning about a particular issue and helping out. Simple by watching our videos, an individual may be raising money for a cause.

2. We agree that personal tie-ins and collaboration are key: that is why we try to partner with the people around us to make our videos. Our mantra is that ordinary people do extraordinary things, and our goal is to highlight them so we can inspire, enable and empower others to do good as well.

We recognize the limitations of using Facebook and Twitter, but we see social media more as a spark for social change rather than as a solution. Our videos are meant to spark conversations and get people thinking about how they can work to do good as well.

Today we released a new video on our friend Walker and Ida’s wedding. For every view that the video receives, The Jubilee Project and our sponsors will donate at least 30 cents to the Liberian Widows Initiative, where Walker and Ida will be working at for the next year. Honestly I can’t stop watching this video and every time I watch it, it makes me want to get married to the girl of my dreams. Enjoy and please share this video with all your friends!

19 =)


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