Online movements’ effect on offline results

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By Ariba Khan, staff writer

With the era of the social media booming now more than ever, spreading awareness about a certain issue has never been easier. A single post of Facebook or a trending hashtag on Twitter can spark a online movement. However, how often do these online movements transmit offline results? The most an online movement can hope for is to transform into something so big offline that their original online roots are forgotten. The day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, an estimated 3.5 million people in cities around the country and the world took part in the Women’s March protesting the Trump agenda in what may have been the largest collective protest in American history. The march started with a single Facebook post and grew from there. Despite these rare instances, most online movements at best can spread awareness about an issue without directly impacting it. These types of movements are often forgotten as soon as they begin. In some instances it seems like these online movements are an excuse to prove that you care rather than actually spending the time to procure actual results. This was the case with the Times Up movement at the Golden Globes, where a myriad of celebrities dressed up in black to say no to sexual harassment toward women, however to most celebrities and people that was the extent of their protesting. In fact, some of these celebrities like Justin Timberlake claim to support the movement but in the same breath claim it “was a dream come true” for him to work with Woody Allen.

Regardless of the potential detriments, online movements if correctly carried out it can be utilized to maximize results. Online movements overcome a well known obstacle to participation, such as time constraints or lack of skills. For example, the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” allowed people to participate in a campaign on their own time. The challenge also utilized fun and unique qualities to make the challenge go viral, this inevitable drawing in millions of participants from around the world. The campaign translated onto offline results raising over 115 million dollars that later helped fund a breakthrough research project that idea that identified a new gene, NEK1, that contributes to the disease. In addition, the prevalence of the internet and social media in current day allows for a more inclusive age range in participation. These movements spread awareness quickly through its viral factor in order to reach the youth. In fact, the influence of social media forces people to take notice regardless of initial interest. Slacktivism, in particular, can be effective at influencing targets in specific circumstances. Similar to a flash flood where a intentional rush of movement overwhelms a system. At the end numbers do matter to people whether its the government, a local school, or a company. An overwhelming amount of signature, phone calls, and emails gathered in a limited time frame can be quite persuasive. Ultimately online movements, regardless of whether it translates great offline results, can bring awareness to the presence of an issue and a chance to change it at the comfort of your home.