We all know about the internet bandwagons that claim to take a stand and create change. Whatever your opinion is on them, we all know about Kony2012, the internet phenomenon that, although raises a lot of awareness about an extremely bad ill, seems to not be totally hitting the mark as it is run by an organization with less-than-stellar financial records. And, in the past few weeks, we have heard about the ever-pressing danger of a corporate CEO that doesn’t believe the same thing as you, or the people who are supposedly killing the right to free speech by not eating at a fast-food restaurant (gasp!). These two examples are enough to make me give up social media as a method for significant viral change.
However, there are the good kind of bandwagons. For example, the DNA Foundation‘s Real Men campaign has highlighted the connection between prostitution and sex trafficking in a way that took the internet by storm. I now believe that fewer men will buy prostitutes, and more people will know about human trafficking because of the celebrity images circling through social media. All three of these examples of a kind of collective thought tool shows us that it can create passion. Passion, when directed properly is the most life-giving and positive force on the planet. However, when misinformed and misplaced, it can be destructive, hateful, and help to create stagnancy.
But, how can we know the difference? How do we know when to get caught up in the moment and when to just let it pass? I think there are a few ways to decide.
Is this movement created by a reputable (check Charity Navigator) and established organization? Or, if grassroots, is it connected with the people who are being affected by the injustice the movement is against? If the answer is no to both of these, I would give some serious thought to stepping in or taking action. If yes, then please read on…
Is the movement asking people to take action beyond a Facebook status or tweet? And, if so, do you support and agree with the actions it is suggesting? The answer should be yes to both of these before you jump on the bandwagon.
Finally, 3. Significance
Think about it. In the big scheme of things, does it matter? Kony 2012 and the Real Men Don’t Buy Girls campaign are fighting against a huge injustice, so the answer for these would be yes. However, Chik fil A? a non-issue. I am not saying that gay marriage is a non-issue. It is a serious issue relating to the core definition of human and civil rights. However, whether or not a CEO of a company agrees with you about it is a non-issue.
So, here are my two-cents. I understand that not everyone agrees with this. Please share your opinion in the comments section. A real dialogue about this could help a lot of people decide when to get caught up in a moment, and when to let it slide by.