It is no secret that social media has become a powerful tool for organizing and mobilizing people. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement, we have seen time and again how digital platforms can be used to bring about real-world change.
But what many people don’t realize is that, while social media is great for raising awareness and coordinating action, it is not very good at sustaining long-term movements. This was made abundantly clear in 2011, when the Occupy Movement fizzled out despite having thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.
The reason why social media is not very effective at sustaining long-term movements is because it encourages what sociologist Zeynep Tufekci calls “weak ties.” These are the kind of relationships that are easy to form and just as easy to break.
In contrast, strong ties are much harder to form but much more difficult to break. These are the kind of relationships that are built through face-to-face interactions and shared experiences.
The problem with weak ties is that they are not very good at sustaining long-term commitments. When the going gets tough, people are more likely to abandon a cause if they only have weak ties to it.
This is why movements like Occupy Wall Street have been so unsuccessful at sustaining themselves over the long term. The participants only have weak ties to each other, which makes it very easy for people to drop out when things get tough.
So if you’re looking to create a lasting social movement, you’re better off focusing on building strong ties rather than weak ones. Face-to-face interactions and shared experiences are much more likely to create the kind of bonds that can weather the storms of adversity.
Many people think that social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are revolutionizing social activism. Many others, on the other hand, stick to their guns in the conviction that these websites cannot achieve the same long-term societal transformations as hands-on activism can.
Author, Malcolm Gladwell argues that weak ties cannot bring about the same kind of social change as strong ties. In his article “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”, he states that Twitter and other forms of social media are not adequate to sustain large-scale social movements because they only strengthen weak ties.
Gladwell believes that online activism through sites like Facebook and Twitter make it too easy for people to participate in protests and revolutions without any real investment or risk. In order for a revolution to be successful, he claims, it requires participants to have strong ties with each other so that they can make personal sacrifices for the cause. Without these strong ties, Gladwell argues, a movement is unlikely to succeed.
Gladwell’s argument has been met with criticism from many who believe that social media can and has been used to successfully organizing large-scale protests and revolutions. While it is true that Gladwell’s claims may hold some validity, it is important to consider the role of social media in these movements in a broader context.
Social media does have some advantages when it comes to organizing protests and revolts. For example, it can be used to quickly mobilize large groups of people and spread information about an event or cause. Additionally, social media can help connect people who may not know each other in person but share similar beliefs or goals. However, these same advantages can also be seen as disadvantages.
The fact that anyone can join a protest or revolution through social media without any personal investment or risk means that the participants may not be as committed to the cause as those who have put their lives on the line. Additionally, the spread of information via social media can also work against a cause if it is inaccurate or misrepresentative.
Thus, while social media does have some advantages when it comes to organizing protests and revolutions, it is important to consider its limitations as well. Social media alone is unlikely to be successful in sustaining a large-scale movement over the long term. For a revolution to truly be successful, it requires participants to have strong ties with each other and a commitment to the cause. Otherwise, the movement is likely to fizzle out quickly.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s essay “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” he explains how social media lacks the strong ties, willingness to sacrifice, and hierarchy of old-fashioned direct action. Because there is no independent feature found in traditional direct activism, social media will never be powerful enough to bring about a real social upheaval.
Gladwell begins his writing by exploring the civil rights movement and how it was successful. He says that the reason why the civil rights movement was able to succeed was because of the strong ties between people. The strong ties allowed for information to be distributed quickly and efficiently throughout the community. In addition, people were willing to sacrifice their time and safety for the greater good. Lastly, there was a clear hierarchy in which people knew who their leaders were.
Gladwell then goes on to contrast the civil rights movement with more recent social movements that have taken place, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement. He argues that while social media has given rise to more “weak ties”, it has not been effective in creating strong ties. In addition, people are not as willing to sacrifice their time and safety for a social movement that they are not as invested in. Lastly, there is no clear hierarchy in which people can look to for leadership.
The loyalty developed through these personal interactions grows in strength and perseverance. The Greensboro Four, which was chronicled by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeter, is a compelling example of a loyal friendship between four brave black students who fought for change by sitting at a local diner during a time when white customers were only permitted to sit and racial insubordination was met with violence.
Even though the men were outnumbered, outgunned, and had no weapons, they continued their sit-in until the day came when they were finally served. This event was a success not only because it resulted in an integrated lunch counter, but also because of the media attention that it generated which created support from people all around the country. The four young men were able to tap into something much larger than themselves, and that was the social networks that they belonged to.
The way we communicate has changed drastically in recent years with the rise of social media. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have given us new ways to connect with each other and share information. But while social media can be a powerful tool for organizing and raising awareness, it is not a panacea. As Malcolm Gladwell argues in his essay “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” social media is not well suited to certain types of activism because it relies on weak ties rather than strong ones.
The Greensboro Four were successful in part because they had strong personal relationships with each other and with the community around them. They belonged to social networks that provided them with support and resources. By contrast, online social networks are often much more diffuse and harder to mobilize. The weak ties that connect us online are not as likely to lead to sustained action as the strong ties that connect us in person.
So while social media can be useful for raising awareness and organizing people around issues, it is not a magic bullet. If we want to create real change, we need to do more than post and retweet. We need to build strong personal relationships and networks of support. Only then can we hope to make a lasting difference.
Sociology is the study of human social behavior, including the origins, development, organization, and functioning of societies. It includes the study of social interaction, social institutions, and social relationships.
Social media refers to the use of online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to communicate and interact with others.
A social network service (SNS) is an online platform that allows users to connect with friends and other people who share similar interests and activities.