What is social change? Well, let’s start by breaking it up. There’s the SOCIAL part.
Today, the first things that probably come to a lot of people’s minds after hearing that word are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram—all of the big social media sites.
Or if you’re a little bit less tech-savvy, you might think about your friends and family, or get-togethers and parties—a more traditional definition of what it means to be “social”.
You also might make the connection between SOCIAL and SOCIETY, in which case, you might think of your home, your community, or your neighbourhood.
Then there’s the CHANGE part.
It’s not as easy to visualize in our minds, as there are so many different kinds of change.
There’s personal change—maybe you recently moved or switched schools, bought a different shampoo to try out, or maybe you’re trying to integrate those new year’s resolutions into your daily routine.
Then there’s change out there in the world—elections, global warming, Justin Bieber going from an innocent child entertainer to a full-blown-getting-in-trouble-with-the-law celebrity…you know, BIG transformations.
The question is, how do our definitions of SOCIAL and CHANGE interact?
Well, we might post a rave review of that new shampoo on our Facebook page.
We might talk about current events like elections and global warming at dinner parties…then we might take pictures and post them on Instagram or blog about something that we heard.
Or, we might just tweet out that the Biebs is a danger to society.
Any way you look at it, social media is a huge part of driving social change in our world today.
It is truly incredible to think about the number of ways that people can express their opinions these days.
We are living in an age of technology and user-generated content—weare the ones creating what we’re seeing.
It’s a powerful thing…perhaps even powerful enough to make positive social change.
But then again, I’ve been blogging about my first year university experiences for a while now, and I’m not sure if what I talk about is really all that life-changing or inspiring.
It just seems like sharing a few stories—about all the stress midterms are causing me, or my first time ever doing my own laundry—doesn’t really make a huge difference in society.
But you never know, someone might read my blog and feel a connection to my story. And that might lead to them to share a different kind of message, which in turn could inspire more readers to share their stories.
And isn’t this chain of communication and connections how real, significant change comes about?
It has to start somewhere.
And since everyone in the world is connected by the Internet, that somewhere might just be a blog, a tweet, or a Facebook post.
Bottom line? Sharing stories is important.
You might think what you have to say is insignificant, but you never know what kind of impact it might have.
Maybe that cat video you saw on YouTube that just distracted you from your homework actually inspired someone else out there to adopt a homeless pet, or to volunteer at their local animal shelter.
It might seem unlikely, but you just never know.
So don’t be afraid to spread your message, no matter what it is, because information travels fast in our world, and it just might be enough to inspire some form of social change for the better.
By Emily G.
Emily is a first year student in the Communication, Culture, and Information Technology program at the University of Toronto. She chose this program because she loves to read and write, and is fascinated by all the different ways that the world communicates. In her spare time, you’ll find Emily playing or watching pretty much any kind of sport, listening to country music, or enjoying a TV marathon of The Simpsons, or Duck Dynasty!