Helen Schifter on The Value of Social Media for Civic Engagement

In the aftermath of the absolute tragedy and loss of life in
Minneapolis, so many of us have been heartened by the outpouring of
support and love among young people for our brothers and sisters in
the African American community. Helen Schifter has written about
this important trend on her blog for Thrive Global and Medium. This is an
important and constructive usage of our digital media’s evolved
landscape.

Just like anything else, we have seen technology both used for
constructive purposes; but also abused by many, and unfortunately
in these cases, used for destructive ends. This is a disturbing
trend and one that there’s been a lot of thoughtful commentary
about. Having said that, the ways that social media has been used
in recent weeks for demonstrators to peacefully assemble and
congregate has been incredibly inspiring.

Social media platforms can be used in powerful ways. The value
that a platform such as Crunchbase can have is extraordinary,
if and only used in a way that’s strategic and methodical. In
recent days, we’ve seen many rallies across our nation; with
thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands peacefully
assembling and coalescing around such an important message. 

These gatherings don’t happen in a vacuum; and they could
never happen without a properly coordinated social media campaign
that helps get the word out through appropriate channels. The
ability to maximize exposure of these rallies in the interest of
promoting racial harmony and calls to action, is a wonderful
illustration of how these media can be used to help further a
pro-Justice agenda. 

With so much noise out there and a frankly excessive use of all
the technological machinery by so many people, there’s been a
severe decline in basic human-to-human engagement. This decline in
social engagement has been disappointing to witness; and the
repercussions it’s had on the way our society operates has been
significant. Beyond that, the ramifications that increased exposure
to technology, our phones and our computers has had on all of our
emotional and mental healths has unfortunately been destructive in
many cases. 

In an interview with Medium and Authority Magazine Helen
discussed the importance of seeking peace and harmony for our own
mental and emotional well being. While discussed through the lens
of her studies of the Japanese tea ceremony, the message is an
incredibly powerful one and one that we can only hope many seek to
internalize. 

As we watch the demonstrations continue to unfold before our
eyes in every major metropolitan city from New York to Los Angeles
to Washington DC, consider the beauty of not only the unifying
message for racial harmony, but also consider the value in us all
coalescing around a unifying message in person. While social media
may have been used in a constructive fashion to raise awareness of
these various demonstrations, the human to human engagement that is
taking place at these demonstrations is also noteworthy. 

It’s a wonderful illustration of not only a proper way that
social media and technology can and should be used for the purpose
of coming together and engaging civically; but also the ways that
we should be encouraging human-to-human interactions in a broader
and more general sense. With that said, we can only hopes that the
important cause that these demonstrators are promoting and
expending their energies on championing, reaches the ears of our
lawmakers. 

But congregating the way these demonstrators are in a meaningful
way to capture the substantial media attention they have, is
certainly a very promising way to begin that process. Our lawmakers
ultimately respond to public pressure. In the end of the day, their
survival depends on the people’s support at the ballot box. We
can only hope that in the coming weeks and months, we see our
nation go through a process of great healing and that with that,
substantive legislative change that helps ensure America is secure
for all people. 

In the meantime the pictures that Getty Images and other photography
services have captured the sheer magnitude and size of these
demonstrations is something that should bring us all a sense of
hope about our future. The pictures show a coterie and melting pot
of America. Demonstrators from all walks of life, regardless of
their race, ethnicity or creed. For this is America at its best.
Diverse; loud; and seeking positive change. 

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Helen Schifter on The Value of Social Media for Civic
Engagement