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Bigger than the Civil Rights Era

 

Something is in the air, and it’s not pollen. It’s not localized to one campus, county or state — it’s not even localized to one country. People around the world with Internet access have realized something they never have before: individuals have a voice, and it is a loud one. We are in the midst of the beginning of a new era; not the previous, dated Social Media Era, but the Social Individual Era. The Social Individual Era has the ability to be more powerful than the Civil Rights Era. 

To many people’s personal dismay, KONY 2012 created the Social Individual Era. Invisible Children marketed its cause to anyone with social media. Suddenly, out of thin air, anyone with a username and password could let their voices be heard. While many people were pulling their hair out because of the KONY Facebook statuses and tweets, the people at Invisible Children were smiling ear to ear. They achieved exactly what they wanted by raising awareness for the unfortunate situation in Africa. What they probably failed to anticipate was the creation of one of the most innovative occurrences of all time.

Just as KONY wore off, the Trayvon Martin case exploded. Though KONY’s social media presence visibly deteriorated, its spirit prevailed. Instead of the usual banter on social media about the lack of justice or lack of evidence regarding the Martin case, social media users formed groups and created catchy hashtags. Immediately, the story was spread around the world. Much like the KONY bracelets that trended after the Invisible Children video was released, people around the world wore hoodies to honor Martin. In the past three days, I have received Facebook group invitations related to the Martin case that have more than 300,000 members each. Just this week, more than 20 justice rallies have occurred in cities around the country — all fueled by social media.

We have finally started to realize what the creators of Facebook and Twitter have wanted us to know all along: we have power that none of our previous generations ever had. 

Imagine how the Civil Rights Era would have been different if social media had been present during those times. The whole premise surrounding the Civil Rights Era was to allow individuals to let their voices and ideas be heard alongside others with the same interests — exactly what the Social Individual Era is all about. With social media, the Civil Rights Era would have been more effective in half the time. 

Now think about where we would be without social media. For starters, we would know much less about KONY and the Trayvon Martin case. I even believe that we would care a little less about them as well. 

We are about to see many more awareness causes like KONY 2012 and the Trayvon Martin case on social media. If you don’t like seeing these things on your Facebook home page or Twitter feed, you have two options: get used to it or delete your accounts. The Social Individual Era is about to take off and it will go down in history as one of the most effective eras of all time. This era shows no sign of slowing down as long as anyone can imagine, so we need to embrace it. 

Let your voice be heard; be a part of history. Be an individual.

 

Adam Ganucheau is a journalism sophomore from Hazlehurst. Follow him on Twitter @GanucheauAdam.