In just four and a half hours, Caitlyn Jenner's twitter account broke the Guinness World record for the fastest twitter handle to gain one million followers. The same day, hundreds of people including athletes, talk show hosts, super models and a good portion of America's general population shared Jenner's Vanity Fair cover on their Instagram feeds along with supportive captions. Jenner's widespread social media presence is a perfect example of grassroots political involvement. Whether or not the instagram and twitter users realized it, their public support of Jenner and consequently the transgender and LGBT community made a huge political statement. Considering the recent legalization of same sex marriage and the evolving health care laws, the fact that so many Americans actively showed their approval for the LGBT community resonated with the government and more and more laws continue to pass to make it easier for same sex couples to gain access to health care, all types of insurance and adoption rights.
The first chapter of "By Any Media Necessary" points out the shift away from traditional political involvement toward digital involvement. In today's culture, young adults and teens are more likely to voice their opinions online via social media or blogs than on a voting ballot. America's support for Caitlyn is a perfect example of this digital involvement. Another point that the reading makes is that social media campaigns make it easy for groups to form and therefore gain even more clout and power. For example, since Caitlyn's transition, groups like HRC (human rights campaign) and Humankind/Human Media have gained followers and supporters across the globe. The media outlet truly allows social and political movements to have an amplified ripple effect because it allows anyone who wants to to get involved and let their voices be heard. Clearly, the fact that Jenner's name is currently one of the most used phrases on social media supports this notion.
The portion of the chapter that stood out to me was the section on "imagined communities." As mentioned above, the digital media outlet allows groups to form around a common cause. But the concept of "imagined communities" refers to the active participation of those voicing their opinion in a group that probably would not exist without the digital platform. The author describes how participating in these communities allows people to feel relevant by engaging in public life, and consequently strengthening the American democracy. This tie between social and political participation stood out to me because it proves that popular culture is not necessarily less political, but less traditionally political and perhaps even more involved in politics than they realize. The digital platform truly gives anyone who wants to be heard a way to communicate in ways that were not possible before. The chapter compares current digital imagined communities to those from the previous century that used the print outlet to communicate--specifically Time Magazine. Not everyone was able to contribute equally to these communities because obviously not everyone could publish an article in a national Magazine. However, there is no restriction to who can publish a post on a social media site or a blog post on a website. As the author put it, the communities have the ability to "improve the quality of life and strengthen social ties within a community," which I think is an accurate description of how someone feels when they share their opinions or support a cause online.
When discussing a 2065 "World Without Borders," we predicted a drop in biodiversity. Between climate change, urban development, and hunting trends (think Cecil the Lion), many species are likely to go extinct by 2065. In an effort to preserve biodiversity and stop animal cruelty, the #BetterAlive campaign will both spread awareness about animal cruelty and raise money for the WWF that will go toward habitat preservation and research.
To participate in the campaign, bloggers and facebook, instagram and twitter users will post a video or picture similar to the mock post below and use the hashtag #BetterAlive. Users will tag other users in their posts in order to spread the movement and tell them that if they do not post a similar video in twenty four hours, they need to donate to the BetterAlive fund. Users are encouraged to use their pets and/or stuffed animals as their heads while dancing or doing otherwise "lively" activities.
The campaign will mobilize users to donate to the cause and learn more about it by creating original content. When users pass the campaign along to their friends, circulation of information about wildlife preservation and the WWF will increase.
Because the campaign requires users to use their personal social media accounts, they are extremely independent in their actions and therefore are more actively involved in the process. As a result, participants feel like they have a good deal of power. As the campaign spreads and grows on social media, the participants will see the broad span of their actions and feel personally involved in the movement.