Radicalism: The Role Of Social Change In Social Media

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#BringBackOurGirls, #blacklivesmatter, and#JeSuisCharlie were three of the most popular twitter hashtags for social change of the past year. When people learned about the issues connected to these hashtags, whether from a traditional news outlet, or more probable, from another person in their network’s social media, they posted the hashtag along with their ideas or support for the movement. While these efforts were successful in making sure everyone else on social media knew about these issues as well as the stance of the individual posting said information, they were not successful in bringing kidnapped girls home, changing the perceived value of black lives, or making anyone Charlie. These examples prove that while social media is a powerful…show more content…
“Radicalism” is a word that popular opinion has given a negative connotation; however, Saul Alinsky’s longwinded explanation of what a radical is shows that radicalism is necessary for social change. He says of the radical: “For the radical, the bell tolls unceasingly and every man’s struggle is his fight…The radical wants to see man truly free. Not just free economically and politically but also free socially” (Alinsky, 15-16). A radical is someone who not only holds strong beliefs, but acts on them (Osman, 4/7). In this way, radicalism is the complete opposite of slacktivism, a term defined as “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement” (Oxford Dictionary). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that his followers should not emulate “the do nothingism of the complacent” (King). Instead, he argues that nonviolent direct action must be taken in order to cause a crisis and tension that a community cannot ignore, forcing them to negotiate and allow change to occur (King). Both Alinsky’s definition of radicalism and King’s expectations of direct action require a deeper level of engagement than social media slacktivism
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