Emergence

Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

Do Good

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I am fascinated by how people develop connections, whether it be in real life or the digital world. Most people have a presence in both spaces, experiencing a freedom unknown before the explosion of the internet to create personas, expand relationships, and exchange information on a global scale. This kind of communication and community building has the potential to promote much social good in the world. Yes, I said good, but before I mount my humanitarian soapbox, I want to explore how peoples postions on supporting social causes have shifted, are shifting, and will continue to shift because of the internet (and more specifically social media).

While reading “Blown to Bits” by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis, I kept coming back to the problem of changing the individual’s perception of how they live in the digital world. What does this mean? Can it be done, and if it can how do you do it? Changing perceptions happens slower than the the growth of technology and flow of information, much slower. People are naturally suspicious of new ideas and change, and to get them to experience a paradigm shift in thinking feels near impossible. And that’s just the thinking part. Getting people to act on a shifted perception is like moving a mountain (a lame attempt at metaphor I know, but you get the idea).  So how does this relate to doing social good?

There are numerous campaigns flooding the web, drumming up support and funds for social causes, so many that the individual quickly feels confused and overwhelmed. How can clicking a link or reblogging a post help starving children in Africa? Which social causes to trust, who controls the dollars, how to participate, the list goes on. There is also the perception that the younger generations are apathetic to the idea of being socially active.

My own concern with doing social good by harnessing social media platforms is how construct a model that is effective in changing how people perceive their role within the community. Instead of clicking a button for a second of instant gratification, they feel that they share a long-lasting responsibility for supporting and promoting the greater good, which promotes connections and community building in both the real and digital realms. I suspect that a shift like this happens via slow, incremental change, but by exploring methodologies and trends of current social causes we can more accurately predict the future of social good, thereby designing programs and implementing changes more effectively.

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Written by HiuHiMedia

January 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm

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