The Social Media Flex on Social Issues

Gay Marriage-Viral Logo.JPEG-0c75bOn Tuesday, March 25, 2013, social media proved a movement, and a very big one at that. One of the most visually persuasive movements I have ever witnessed. The Supreme Court heard two cases on Tuesday and Wednesday concerning marriage equality in the matter of gay rights and same sex marriage. Both cases presented to the Supreme Court were epic on many levels, more importantly the shape of such a subject matter which at one time was a contentious subject matter overpoweringly took Facebook and Twitter by storm in a very short period of time. By 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning I took notice, as it was more than difficult to not. The customary blue and yellow human rights emblem was altered, now displaying an audaciously pink and red. The movement began with a couple of my friends who made the new equality sign their profile pic and then another and another, and soon I joined in, the next thing I knew, there was a swath of red and pink all over Facebook, not just my gay friends, but straight friends who openly support marriage equality as well by replacing their typical profile pic with the new dashing pink and red sign of equality. By noon, a sea of pink profile pics corrupted my Facebook, along with disagreements, arguments, support, and opposition as well. I read more than once that people were deleting friends, family members, acquaintances that were in opposition of the movement in addition to an overabundance of thank you’s to people who were unsuspectingly supportive. It was a poignant 48 hours and still even a week after the hearings there are copious sums of lingering pink and red profile pics displaying their version of the altered equality sign.

Being a social media consultant I considered this to be more than a movement, it was revolution. A moment, where we as individuals openly connected, supported and opposed a key social issue. Social media brought so many people together on those two days and in the same breath, tore so many people apart. That is the power of social media. Without it, who’s to say what kind of movement this would’ve been. But in my opinion, without social media and blogging, I believe that equal rights and marriage equality issues would simply be a blip on the radar. You can’t count on true broadcast media to report fully the extent of all issues without placing their spin on it and distorting fact from fiction. With social media, we are able to keep up to date on everything, see what others are honestly saying regardless of their bias; it is an natural faction, a movement that has given so many individuals a voice that didn’t have one or at least one that couldn’t be heard because it wasn’t and couldn’t be adequately strident.

We can look at this movement not just from a social standpoint but as a progressive societal viewpoint. Granted, there is always going to be some ugliness when these issues have severe antagonism, but when we appraise where we were on these very same social issues 10 years ago to today, we have seen a society transform, one that is not diluted by what the press and media are feeding them, but one that is creating their own press, their own news media through social media and blogging. It’s luminous. And because of this movement, and the state of its evolution, we are finding that being gay isn’t such a tragic and horrible thing in society’s eyes as the media has portrayed it to be. We are seeing more and more support for marriage equality than lack thereof. I think this movement has proven that this is a miraculous time in our country and world. When you think back to the civil rights movement in the 60’s and how many lives were destroyed because of this, it’s interesting to think that nowadays, we can click, delete or add and move on if need be, without very little destruction. Social media has saved the social anguish over social issues.

It’s compelling if you think about it. At times we look to social media as the grand interpreter and destroyer, I’m quite sure that because of social media, marriages, relationships, jobs have been destroyed because when something is posted to the internet, it is written in ink not pencil. However, in the light of this, now people have been given a voice; and now, in a non-violent way people can disagree without vast consequences. We can block people from comment lists, unfollow, unfriend or whatever if that is what makes us feel more in control of our social atmosphere then so be it; this, all due to the flex of social media. Now, people are uniting over a subject matter whereas 10 years might have not. Why? Because social media has connected so many people from high school, college, home towns and now because of these spider webs of connections, more and more people know more and more people that are gay, and are like, “ya know what, who cares!”

In the end, when looking at social media as a whole, I think in its entirety it has brought people together in unlikely times and as do most mediums it has the propensity to raze as well. However, if it weren’t for social media, we wouldn’t have the ability to exercise the freedom of speech, support or oppose issues openly without the feeling of prosecution. I think in general, we undervalue social media and the flex it has on our society and how we function within that society. On those two days in March, I was able to witness something extraordinarily implausible; I saw a country come together on an issue that is so vital to our society and its very existence as Americans. It is beautiful to say I was a part of that moment, even it was just as simple as changing my profile picture in support, I felt like I was part of a very powerful and important movement, and that in itself was a captivating emotion…

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