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Social media and social change: strengths and limitations

Social media and social change: strengths and limitations

Writing for Christian Century, Carol Howard Merritt takes a long look at both the strengths and limitations of social media in promoting social change. She says:

It saddens me when my social justice friends discount and even mock the basic tools of communication and organizing that a new generation uses. They uplift the glory days of the 1960s, while belittling and negating the hard work of younger generations. But, this exchange reminded me of the other side of the issues. Those of us who are deep in the mire of social media and Internet culture also need to be aware of the short-term manipulations that can entangle us and keep us from long-term change.

Can #occupy’s work continue to move from an urban camping protest to a long-term strategy to combat the inequities in our country? Can we continue to struggle with the justice issues of educational debt, which is crippling so many young men and women in our country? Can we keep working on gender equality, fair wages, and the availability of contraception even after the Democrats stop decrying the “War on Women”? ….

As Christians who strive for social justice, we know that we often need the fast and furious exposure that social media can bring. But we also need the long-term, careful work that takes decades.


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