As events around the election and resulting protests in Iran unfold, it seems like every blogger, tweeter, and other social mediaer is in on the action. And I don't know how many people in Philly's streets are wearing the green of protest, but I see Twitter and Facebook photos in lovely mossy hues.
Will Bunch, Daily News columnist, wrote a piece about the Iran election story from the lens of a growing gulf between social media and more traditional news outlets: Media revolution: What's Gained, What's Lost.
But I think Bunch missed the point. Social media isn't solely about news transmission, it is about mass movements and activism. Social media is responding to and creating news.
I made a comment on Bunch's Attytood online blog post:
In the 1950's the newly birthed television gave the civil rights movement a mass audience. People were horrified by the sight of dogs and firehoses unleashed on peaceful demonstrators looking for the end of segregation. But people did not simply watch tv, they opened their wallets and gave money to activist groups such as Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) or they simply went down South to participate in direct action. Social media promises to usher in a new wave of activism because in short bursts of information, messages of "Do this" or "Go there" are flooded our consciousness. We aren't absorbing news passively in social media, we are being encouraged to construct it. It is better to go do something and tweet about it in the moment than to read about it in the paper in the morning. With social media, I use my voice, but I also use my feet. I demonstrate, I boycott, and I put up a big ole fuss with the establishment. Talk without action leads nowhere.
In summary, I am very much excited by the potential social media has in shaping our world in more democratic and more humane ways. I want to be part of that.