A Review of the Article Small Change Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted
Once again, I’ll preface this response with the fact that I absolutely love the writing of Malcolm Gladwell because of the way he dissects theories, issues, events, and phenomena’s. This particular article, “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted?” hit home because I consider myself an active user of social media. I’ve always recognized that there is great power in social media because of its ability to instantly share information, but I’ve also seen many voices and pleas go unanswered on social media. Despite this, however, I’d never identified what separates the success stories of social media from the advocacy tweets with no favorites before reading this article.
Now, the difference is clearer. When I think through all of the popular social movements I’ve noticed on social media over the years, I realize that none of them involved a lot of action. “Kony 2012” only asked users to watch a 30 minute video online that was genuinely interesting because its purpose was to spread awareness. It was extremely successful because there was no risk in contributing to the movement. Similarly, a popular thing for twitter users to do recently has been to ask famous people how many retweets they need in order to get the famous person to go with them to their high school prom. People with only a few hundred followers are able to get thousands of retweets because all they are asking for is a retweet. There is little to no risk to the people who choose to retweet these tweets.
A third example of a recent movement on social media is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This movement was successful for two primary reasons. First, all the movement required was for people to dump a pale of ice water on their heads in a video and post it online. This is trivial in the grand scheme of things. Secondly, the movement targeted personal relationships. One twitter account or Facebook page didn’t challenge everyone in the nation to do the ALS Ice Bucket
Challenge. With every post online for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the people posting have to
challenge their own friends to complete the challenge as well.
On the other hand, it is hard to identify the failed movements on social media because they never actually spread around. The only ways to evaluate failed movements on social media is to look at the small scale. For instance, I was on the Executive Council of my high school. We ran school events and tried to spark involvement. We had our success and our failures, but we tried to advertise on twitter at all times. Looking back, an overwhelmingly large percentage of our failures asked our student body to take larger risks as individuals and our successes were much easier for each member to contribute to. Our in-class competitions that we marketed and asked students to bring in money to donate to the Food Drive in return for the chance at winning a breakfast were a huge hit. The Food Drive dance, which for whatever reason didn’t catch on as “the place to be” that night, was much harder to successfully advertise. This is because it involved not only a five dollar donation, but also the expectation of attending a dance that many people didn’t want to go to.
I learned a great deal from this essay by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve learned the capabilities and limitations of social media. This has prepared me for what might happen on social media in the future and its potential effect on the society we live in. I’ll even be a smarter social media user from here on out because of this article.