One of the many positive effects of social media in today’s society is the power that it has to bring people together. People from all around the world are able to unite and bring awareness to a cause that they believe in. The creation of social movements however is not a new concept, instead it is something that has evolved over time and increased in its efficiency, thanks to the rise of social media.
Significant public interest in various causes has given rise to the term ‘social movements’. Carty describes a social movement as “neither a riot or electoral politics. Rather, it is a sustained collective articulation of resistance to elite opponents by a plurality of actors with a common purpose” (Carty, 2015 pp. 6-7). Although there are many components that define a social movement and its strategies, such as campaigning, it is important to note that the means by which the message is put across to the public is influenced by the types of platforms that are available at the time. for instance, in todays society, activists are more likely to put up petitions online for interested publics to sign rather than go around from door to door with pen and paper.
Activists tend to utilize the most effective tool of communication that is available at the time, and as a result of this today, social media, with its easy to access and cost effective features seems like their most obvious bet. Websites such as change.org, advertising themselves as ‘the world’s platform for change’ its allow users to create online petitions and raise awareness about different issues.It is also able to circulate all around the world instead of being restricted to a particular country or community.
The state of the Zoo in my home country, Sri Lanka has been heartbreaking from the time I remember. Going to the zoo back home as a child was never a exciting experience for me, instead every time I have gone there (I think its only been twice), I have come back disheartened and angry by the conditions that the animals were forced to endure. I even remember a time where I asked my parents if we could take some of the animals home so they could live in our garden- to me, anything seemed better than them living in that horrible Zoo.
Even though there have been many attempts to raise awareness about this issue, it is only recently that a video uploaded by the magazine Life Times Sri Lanka that showcases the horrible treatment of the animals at the Dehiwala Zoo has started going viral on Facebook, so much so that it has even caught the attention of the well-known animal welfare group PETA Asia with them sharing it on their social media pages as well. It is clear that Social media has played a huge part here in gathering supporters and encouraging people to speak up.
Since its release, the video has been shared over 1000 times of Facebook and a petition has even been started online demanding that the Zoo be closed and the animals be kept in sanctuaries instead. The petition is addressed to the President of Sri Lanka and again ties back into the definition of a social movement, in that it targets the elite.
Prior warning, this video, if you do choose to watch it, is not for the faint hearted. however, it is made in such a way that it is impossible to ignore and as a result effectively manages to raise awareness. Hopefully it will raise enough awareness and eventually act as a catalyst for change in the near future.
- Carty, V 2015, Social movements and new technology, Westview, New York, pp. 6-7