In the past, social media was limited to photos with silly filters and Facebook posts about this person being annoyed with so-and-so about something trivial. This is changing, though, as the culture of social media like Twitter has become a connection between the public and the government.
Political and social news on either side of the political spectrum is highly accessible to anyone with a Twitter account. Hashtags and Twitter Moments bring attention to social issues and movements like Black Lives Matter, pro-life versus pro-choice and feminism. This connection goes both ways, as seen with President Trump’s insights about the state of the country.
“The issues behind social movements are what primarily brings people together in solidarity, whether it’s because the person has experienced the issue firsthand or because they simply want to be an ally. Social media has been able to connect people from all around the world who share a passion for a certain action. People play a pivotal role as well because they inform others on the issue, which ultimately helps the movement thrive,” junior Kyleigh Noble said.
Social media is a world that is constantly growing, changing and expanding. This growth is cultivated by supporters of the movements who are passionate about the issues behind the movements. This dedication has led to the aforementioned social movements to gain the attention of people worldwide.
“These social movements, I believe, raise awareness on issues that have always been prevalent in society. Issues, such as policy brutality and sexual assault, have come to light because of these social movements, despite reluctance to discuss them beforehand,” Noble said.
It is with headline-making arising from this raised awareness on Twitter and other social media sites that these movements can garner a following, spread knowledge and be respected. The means of these movements being able to make a name for themselves is similar to the case of third parties in politics.
“Third parties in America have trouble gaining legitimacy. Their platforms come from either individual people with large bases or from groups that break off from the larger two parties. Without large followings, these parties don’t have the media’s attention and without that, nobody knows about them,” A.P. Government teacher John Carmichael said.
These movements grow out of positive reactions and support, but to say that social movements are met with only positivity and agreement is untrue. Sometimes, rather than aligning themselves with a movement and its ideals, people take the exact opposite view as a means of discrediting it. This polarization also garners more attention on social issues.
Trump, as the first president to use Twitter unrestrained, brings even more attention to issues and his Twitter feed, from his tweets about the size of nuclear buttons to ones about insulting Kim Jong-un, acts as a way for American citizens to respond to him.
“[Trump’s] followers are extremely passionate and supportive, but those on the other side want him to fail. Anything he does makes headlines,” NBC4 reporter Mindy Drayer said.
The response (whether support or backlash) online to his tweets is a sign that the way the world views politics is stepping away from television speeches and mailed petitions and transforming into immediate feedback of public policy issues and an irreversible way for citizens to make their voices heard.