A recent study conducted by Walden University found that respondents believe that they can positively contribute to social change. This is refreshing among the backdrop of a turbulent economy and challenging political times. Nine out of ten Americans agree that quickest way to turn an interest into a movement was through the use of digital technology. The most common ways cited for promoting social change was at a local level, through informal groups and non-profit organizations.
“Americans believe that digital technology enhances social change by making it easier to do many things, particularly following news and events related to social change (79%) and increasing awareness about issues or needs (77%).”
While digital media can help spread a message and build a movement, it is important to place value in face to face interaction at a local level.
It is easy to see how digital and interpersonal interaction can be used together in context. For example, consider the recent tragedy of teen Jayme Rodemyer, who committed suicide after being bullied. His idol Lady Gaga caught wind of recent events via Twitter, and began the rally to #makealawforjamey.
This took off virally, but has also gained momentum throughout the country because of rallies and candlelit vigils. Social change began through a series of events both digitally and on a local level with face to face communication. This example shows the power of digital technology and word of mouth exchange to make a positive change. It also sheds light on the ability to use these modes as a forum impede social progress.
With digital technology social change now has the opportunity to occur faster and gain more recognition then perhaps ever before. Digital and unmediated communication perpetuate one another, and both can have a huge impact on yielding change. The progress of non-profits and social organizations is contingent on their ability to integrate new technology into already existing communication plans. By learning how combine its power with the desire of individuals to make a difference, a world of opportunity will be opened.