#Ferguson: Online Activism, Offline Action

Social media has successfully been used to spread awareness about rare diseases, and to coerce retailers to remove offensive products from their shelves, but can it be used to bring about social change?

I think so. As long as the online activism is matched with offline action, and that is exactly what has been happening in the days after the #FergusonDecision.

Some Background Information: 

This past Monday Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for murdering Michael Brown, a black unarmed teenager, and social media literally blew up. There were millions of tweets, statuses and posts worldwide lamenting the #FergusonDecision and the understandable violence that erupted after. Nation-wide protests soon followed.

Protesting injustices is not a new practice and sadly decades later we seem to be marching for the same issues.

What has changed though is our method of spreading information and organizing protest efforts. In the past it may have taken days, weeks, and even months to organize protests. Now, a simple hashtag can be the catalyst for change.

Hashtags Driving Change:

#FergusonDecision: According to Twitter the #Ferguson decision garnered 3.5 million tweets, People all over the world shared their disappointment, pain, sadness and rage. But even with all the varied emotions, through this hashtag one point became clear: Things in America need to change. The next day there were nation-wide protests held, many organized through social media.

#StopTheParade: On Thursday a group of New Yorkers, working in solidarity with Ferguson, attempted to halt the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This hashtag was used to document the protest (which wasn't shown on TV) and reorganize protesters after arrests scattered the group.

#NotOneDime | #BlackOutBlackFriday: In response to the case and the constant devaluing of black lives (despite our 1.1 trillion dollar buying power), a plan was made to boycott major retailers on Black Friday while spending money at black owned and/or small businesses instead.

What Next?

It's hard to say what will happen next, but my hope is for social media to continue to unite us all, and hopefully a change will soon come.

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