Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead.
Ever since human started living in closely knitted groups, we had a desire of utopia. The desire only grew with time, considering the current political climate, it’s easy to see why.
We are living in an age of abuses and brutality. Many people outlet their frustrations on social media and feel better. On the other hand, the intellectual beings are hoping that we can, and will, create a better world.
From George Floyd to Sushant Singh Rajput, we see a lot of wrong happenings in the society. Because we seem to be charging off in so many different directions at once, it is hard to get any kind of clear picture of the purposes and priorities of our society.
We don’t get a clear picture of what we exactly want to change.
A swift wind blows after every major incident. Yet, we see nagging and repeatitive incidents in future. The current anti-nepotism and anti-racism wind is no exception.
To every thinking person, it brings one question: What can be done to make society change?
The Roots of Societal Change
There are four types of social changes:
- Alternative — Small change in individual behaviour. For an example, cutting mobile usage.
- Redemptive — Dramatic changes within individuals. For an example, drug recovery programs.
- Reformative — A specific set of changes at broad scale. Like, say, legalization of same sex marriages.
- Revolutionary — Drastic changes at the large level. For an example, American civil rights movement.
These different types are distinguished by how much change they advocate and whether they target individuals or the entirety of a society.
The effect of the social changes is expected to be positive and long lasting. A transient change isn’t what we look forward to.
For an example, Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of non violence is still followed by millions of individuals around the globe, even after one and a half century has passed.
Effects of Social Changes
When the social changes are reformative or revolutionary, they have potential of introducing a new political philosophy.
Some movements are so resonating that they create upheaval around the world. For an instance, anti racism is one of the movements that are pain point for many countries and societies. #MeToo is another example that spread virally through strength in numbers.
A good social cause inspires many individuals to adopt the required change as their own public philosophy. People support and recommend it. The biggest factor of any social change lies within the individuals supporting it.
The social change can die an early death if it doesn’t expand its horizons. It should create close groups such as Non Government Organizations which are devoted to keep the movement alive with dialogue.
Finally, it should give further impetus for the change to become a subject of serious academic study and research in institutions of higher learning throughout the world, notably in the fields of history, sociology, religious studies, theology, and comparative political philosophy.
How social media can drive change in society?
Judging history through the prism of present can be very damaging.
There was no social media at the time of civil rights movement and non violence movement. News papers were the last resort to publicize these causes.
Now, social media has taken the front role in influencing people. It has a significant role in our decision making. It can be no longer disregarded.
It can bring millions of supporters onboard.
It can get an activist overnight popularity like Greta Thunberg.
The truth is, social media — when used strategically over time — can bring the most powerful social changes.
#MeToo led to high-profile firings and amendments in law to create safe working spaces.
However, many regard#MeToo as a vendetta driven movement, we all will agree that it unleashed a dark side nobody would have known, if this movement wasn’t started. It also made us think about false accusations and social media trials which can malign innocent people.
Social media has the power to influence and revolutionalize masses. with that fact on hand the responsibility of every individual active on the internet increases.
By all means, people should leverage their interest in social media to promote learning, creative expression, and civic engagement. Social media connects people with a world of ideas and a world of possibilities. Social media promotes active citizenship.
Social media can be a great platform for them to start campaigning for their rights and the rights of other people.
Back to the Real World
With all being said about social media, the real change happens in the real world.
If the social media traction doesn’t convert into some real solid actions, then the social media campaign is a failure.
We can’t disregard social media, but the power of people supporting a cause physically is still at the top.
Make the social change a team effort. There are 4 types of people you’ll encounter:
• Fast Yes: those on your team and ready to work to implement the change.
• Slow Yes: slightly skeptical but still open and can see the value in what you’re doing.
• Fast No: quick to dismiss change but clarity and decisiveness can change that and turn them into strong supporters.
• Slow No: look like they can be persuaded but have already decided against you and will stal and undermine. Here, convincing by example is the best route.
Know who you’re dealing with.
Create a high trust environment within your supporters. Without trus, a social campaign is nothing but a failed project in making.
For that, be open to ideas and active participation. There’s no hegemony in social change.
Talk to all the participants individually. Have a democratic arrangement where you tell them what’s happening and how far we have came.
Changes take time. Don’t get frustrated if it is slower than you hoped.