I read Share This: How YOU will change the world with social networking by Deanna Zandt. She says: “How we share information, find community, and both connect and disconnect will give us unprecedented influence over our place in the world.” She points out that the internet is an opportunity for voices to be heard that have previously been marginalized—women, gays, and minorities.
Zandt argues that when we share our personal stories (not just what we had for lunch) “we create bonds of trust and empathy that lead us away from that apathy that’s glazed over our eyeballs for at least a century.” She argues that social technology will only bring serious social change if diversity is represented. Otherwise, it’s same old, same old. Storytelling, she says “has been the most powerful building block for social change since the beginning of time.”
Empathy, Zandt argues, may change people’s minds a lot better than facts or rational arguments. As someone with a degree in rhetoric, I found this a little hard to swallow. Why bother sharing? I wondered. So far, few people have read this blog other than poetry entries. But, I realized, every blog has to start somewhere. Zandt makes a compelling argument that we need to “share information with each other, rather than simply receiving information passively from sources outside of our personal relationships.” This is an opportunity for all of us little people to get our stories told, especially if we work together.
“You are sharing your story to benefit those who come after you,” Zandt says. The danger, of course, is that sometimes by signing an online petition or forwarding an email, people feel they have done enough for a cause, when in fact they’ve not accomplished anything substantial. A term has been coined for this: “slacktivism.” Zandt notes that “awareness is not enough; we must build movement infrastructure that supports full-on campaigns and utilizes social technologies to effect tangible social change.”
Zandt’s website: http://www.sharethischange.com