Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Social Media-Fueled Activism

There was no Internet (Al Gore’s dial-up connection doesn’t count) back in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil spill took place. No Facebook page, no Twitter or YouTube … no email even. But somehow irate consumers spread the word about boycotting Exxon, and the message stuck, at least with me. There are no Exxon stations in eastern Kansas, but when I travel out of state I still go out of my way to avoid them. Sadly, Exxon doesn’t seem to have suffered much because of the boycott, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Now it’s a new millennium, and there’s a whole new oil spill to contend with—plus a new arsenal of tools for activists who want to teach big oil a lesson. I’d like to think the nearly 100,000 fans on the Boycott BP Facebook page will have more success in boycotting BP than we did with Exxon back in the 80s, but who knows whether fans will actually hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to putting gas in their tanks.

Even if Facebook fans let me down, I have my fingers crossed that social media users will do a more effective job of disseminating images of the spill, which should arouse a collective outcry from the public once it sees the oil-coated wildlife and decimated coast line. In the past few days I’ve seen a few pictures of pelicans pathetically trying to fly with their oil-covered wings that have made me want to cry. If it’s visual evidence people need to be pushed into joining the boycott, writing a letter or getting just plain fed up, I hope everybody along the coast with a camera is out there snapping pictures to share with the world.

Whether it’s the ubiquity of the messaging that strikes our collective consciences or the poignant pictures pouring onto the web, today’s activists have it made when it comes to organizing and getting their message out. I hope that 21 years from now we can look back on their efforts and say “yes, we truly made a difference.”

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Feel Good Story for a Funky Friday

With the Gulf oil spill dominating the news this week and my own personal animal tragedy weighing heavily on my mind (I had to put my cat to sleep), I was feeling pretty sad about the animal kingdom. Then someone turned me onto this amazing video of a man reuniting with a gorilla he raised then released into the wild. I had to share. Enjoy :-)