Social Media’s Impact?

Hello, my name is Nathalie Davidson and I am a current sophomore at Wellesley College. As a frequent user of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, I’m looking forward to seeing a different side of the websites I have only used as methods of procrastination. Global connections fascinate me because of my international families and I am looking forward to learning more about the use of media to connect movements.

Little is known about the power and impact of social media. Articles written on New Media, Communication, Social Movements, etc, raise more questions than they do answers. R. Kelly Garrett brings up in “Protest in an Information Society: A Review of Literature on Social Movements and New ICTs” that the “few works are commonly cited across the field, and most are known only with the confines of their discipline.” The writers of “Blogs and Bullets; New Media in Contentious Politics” also write that “policy makers and scholars know very little about whether and how new media affect contentious politics.” They describe new media as “sketchy” but with new tools emerging to measure patterns. Both articles develop frameworks to analyze the influence of new media on society.

As I read these articles, I noticed more questions are being asked than answered (reminding me of any episode of ABC’s Lost.) The articles also skimmed over the possibility of social media having limited scope. Blogs and Bullets briefly mentions that Iran’s Internet use has risen from 4.7 percent in 2002 to 32.3 percent in 2007. While that is an impressive jump of internet use in Iran, the fact still remains that in 2007, 67.7 percent of the country did not have access. The impact of social media will be huge as soon as entire countries have access. It might have been futile to discuss countries without resources in an article discussing social media but I think it would could provide another framework on how social media is reaching out to those without. Blogs and Bullets also gave a taste of how the repressed or without resources accessed the internet through proxies services such as Psiphon and The Onion Router but little was said about hacking in the other articles. I’m looking forward to reading more about hacking as the course progresses!

For me, the “point” of social media movements is to reach as many people as possible. The articles argue of whether social media is more passive and not affecting mobilizations. I might be naive in asking this but does it really matter? Mobilization will occur by the passionate and the more information is out there, the more people will know. Although trite, the saying “knowledge is power” is completely true.

For example, In highschool, Bill McKibben, author, environmentalist, and activist came to speak to the school about his organization 350. 350 is an organization dedicated to preserving our planet. They are working to reduce CO2 emissions from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350ppm.

You can read more about 350 at their website –

According to their website, in October of 2009, they coordinated 5200 rallies in 181 countries. In October 2010, they organized a day of climate solutions reaching 7000 events in 188 countries.

While I have not actively participated in 350, I am more knowledgable of the organization because Bill McKibben took the time out of his schedule to reach students. He encouraged us to “like” the organization on facebook and since 10th grade, I have kept up with 350’s events. As a sophomore in college, I am more likely to donate or participate with 350 because they have become part of my Facebook newsfeed, a place I regularly frequent.

My passive participation in 350 might have also presented itself as my potential project for this class! Although I am still researching other movements, because of 350’s persistence on my facebook newsfeed, I feel more inclined to research them. I’m also giddy with excitement  to compare 350’s media tactics with the movie we watched in class! I’m hoping that will be my next blog post.

While social media sites have often proved to be sources of entertainment for me, they are also sources of information. Social media has impacted me by providing me with information.


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