Social Media’s Power to Define and Create Change

By Monica Clarke

According to the dictionary, the definition of “occupy” is:

1: to engage the attention or energies of

2a: to take up (a place or extent in space) <this> <the> b: to take or fill (an extent in time) <the>

3a: to take or hold possession or control of <enemy> b: to fill or perform the functions of (an office or position)

4: to reside in as an owner or tenant

For many years, we have seen this word used in the sense of one country’s occupation of another country. In the popular media, focus for most of the use of this word has manifested according to the third definition. But not anymore. With the tools and connections to power a blast of communication all across the world, the Occupy Wall Street movement is history in the making.

According to Wikipedia, the Occupy Wall Street movement is defined as:

“an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City based in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district. The protests were initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters. They are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, corruption and influence over government—particularly from the financial services sector—and lobbyists. The protesters’ slogan, “We are the 99%”, refers to the difference in wealth and income growth in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.”

According to a quotation from the Boston Herald, Economist Magazine has called the movement “America’s first true social media uprising,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Occupy-Wall-Street-e1320702611177The Occupy movement has gone from just a post here and post there to groups across the country communicating via social media outlets. And now the entire world has adopted the term #occupy. They aren’t just occupying Wall Street anymore — there are supporters occupying places like Denver, Colorado, Raleigh, North Carolina, and even London, England, just to name a very small few.

What I find so amazing about this organic social media-communicated movement is that it is affecting the real world we live in. It’s causing people to make change, stand up for what they believe in, and make a difference. And it is not just the ability to #occupy a location any longer to make a point of solidarity and create an awareness for a demand in change. The movement has spread to something that caught my eye last week on Twitter. It’s a movement called #occupy charity, and according to the organization’s website, they DEMAND the following of charity: Fiscal and Executive Transparency, Defined Missions and Outcomes, Willingness to Take Risks, Continuous Improvement, Constant Learning at All Levels , and Flatter Organizations. Occupy Charity is taking the movement one step further, evolving the ideas of #occupywallstreet in order to better the world of nonprofits, not just for-profits.

Something to think about:
Imagine what the civil rights movement would have been like if social media had been around back then. Do you think that lives would have been spared due to the realities of publishing being in the hands of everyday citizens? Would it have been resolved differently? What are your thoughts?