Tag Archives: Zandt

Social Media and Social Change

@MyDtcAccount – Jonathan Crabtree


“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This quote, accredited to Aristotle, is an indication of how powerful people can be when they come together, and how long it has been this way. Since before the time of Aristotle, people have been congregating in order to achieve a goal that would be too difficult to reach by themselves. Social media has given society an easier way than ever before of getting people with like-minded ideals and goals together. One of the ways that people are drawn to others is through the use of stories. The neurological process of hearing stories causes people to remember the idea that was communicated in the story longer than when they are simply told an idea or goal. Deanna Zandt states that “social networking gives us unprecedented power to share our stories with more people than we ever imagined” (1). This “unprecedented power” has organized protests, rebellions, and weekend get-aways to the beach, with more ease than ever before. Gone are the days of having to go around areas and posting physical material and hoping to get the populations’ attention, or relying on word of mouth to spread the date of an event. Individuals are now able to directly contact people and open up message boards so that everyone interested in the event is able to get on the same page and there’s no confusion.

Zandt presents six key terms (originally presented by Tara Hunt) that increase an individual’s value within a social media environment – although I would posit that they are all transferable to real-life value. The main one that social media immediatly improves is the term “connections.” By being a part of a social media environment, people are connected with others, which can lead to a discussion of ideas and eventually bloom into a full-blown event that seeks to create social change.

Social Change


Social networking has greatly grown in the last couple of years. MySpace used to be a casual thing where you would log on once in a while to see what your friends were up to. Now with Facebook, it seems like we have to be connected at every second. Facebook is not just for sharing what’s new or photos of events. I sometimes use Facebook as my source of news. Social networking is so powerful that people can create social groups, and advocate for social change in their communities. Dianna Zandt says that: “Social Networking gives us unprecedented power to share our stories with more people than we ever imagined” (Zandt, 159). On Facebook, people can post their own opinions about matters that they see on the news. As I’m scrolling through my news feed, I see all sorts of people advocating for their own beliefs. Someone wants freedom in palestine, while others want changes in the supreme court rulings. People with similar opinions are welcomed to go like a page where they agree about a certain issue. This brings people together and to get active in promoting their ideas. Just like when Lisa Goldman started a Facebook page that protested against standardized testing, emphasizing that  “testing is not teaching.” Over 6,000 people joined in on the fight against the standardized tests. While I do not know of the outcome, I think that they must have had an influence on the ruling. Social networking allows for these groups to arise and bring social change.

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According to Zandt “storytelling has been the most powerful building block for social change,” and “social networking gives us unprecedented power to share our stories” (1). Social media environments, such as the web, allow users to mobilize and seek change. One such example is “progressive activists,” (Zandt 5). Progressive activists used web technologies to inform others about unpopular stories that were not covered in regular media. So, the activists mobilized and founded “the first Independent Media Center,” which covers such unpopular stories, (Zandt 5).

Another example of how social media creates mobilization and change is through blogging. Blogging allows a variety of people to connect through common interests, creating a network of friendships. Linking sites and videos to blogs allows people to share their interests with others who may be thousands of miles away. These interests and ideas that are being shared could create a movement or mobilization concerning a certain shared opinion or topic.

As discussed by Zandt, there are certain aspects that establish a person’s social capital; which is how participation and sharing is measured in the “gift economy,” (31). These aspects, according to Tara Hunt, make someone valuable, which contributes to “the social media ecosystem,” (Zandt 31). Connections, reputation, and influence are some of the aspects that boost someone’s social capital, which makes sharing easier. One example given by Zandt is when someone thanks another person for responding to their blog, which makes people feel appreciated and more likely to share the blog. Not only did this boost reputation, but it also facilitated sharing through social media (33).