This is a guest post from Jan Littler-Finseth.
Last night – driving home – I heard a discussion on the CBC’s ‘The Current’ about a Facebook page that has grown exponentially this week (it was set up last weekend and has grown from zero to over a hundred thousand members in a few short days). Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament is a page that provides a conduit to protest the decision by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to initiate prorogation and it is gathering steam.
Whether you supported the Conservatives or the Marijuana party in the last election or think that is wrong or okay for Parliament to be temporarily discontinued, the fact that a Facebook page is national news says something about the lengthening tentacles of Social Media.
In my car – windshield wipers working overtime – I was bemused at the number of ‘serious’ people out there who are convinced that Facebook is mostly a vacuous portal only frequented by teenagers when on the contrary, the over 35 age group is the fastest growing.
Can Social Media sites bring about democratic reformation or real-world change of any kind? That remains to be seen but the truth is, Facebook, Twitter, and the likes are ‘little’ things that can make big change happen.
Grass roots politics has long been a facet of the Canadian political landscape but now tools like Facebook allow for communication and networking, bringing geographically diverse (but likeminded) communities together to join forces, communicate their message and have more impact.
Let’s face it, however, if your group, your idea, or protest is poorly focused and unsupported – no one thing will help. Social Media is only a part of a program – changes come when we act and believe that what we do makes a difference.