[-empyre-] Social Media Use across Campaigns for Social Justice

mrahul at sas.upenn.edu mrahul at sas.upenn.edu
Thu Dec 11 12:00:06 EST 2014

I appreciate the focus on entanglements of social media and social  
justice with power. Indeed, social media is being used by different  
groups for different reasons as David and Tim note. Social media  
itself as something very different from broadcast or mass or  
mainstream media needs much debate (though differences exist and need  
to be accounted for). The proclivity to suggest that social media is  
essentially decentralized or distributed, and not hierarchical, is  
again untenable. To be selective about social media's uses would also  
be a mistake. All this said, activists in situated contexts are trying  
to find ways of using social media for translocal resistance: they are  
disrupting and shifting flows of capital for lobal gestures, to borrow  
from Ricardo. Activists, I talk with, understand electronic medium's  
power dynamics, are aware of capital's (re)appropriations and  
sometimes are disenchanted too, but more often than not, they seem to  
remain committed to tactical trespasses believing another world is  
possible. Activist idealizations can be problematic and yet one can be  
self-reflexive about them.

Also grounded activists rarely have a technological bias: as I earlier  
noted, an activist said knowing Twitter Trends algorithm can help only  
to a limited extent; unless enough urban people can be found in  
Twitter who are interested in rural issues and can circulate them,  
algorithms cannot work by themselves. Furthermore, as I mentioned  
before, social movement organizing in campaigns for social justice,  
depends on many kinds of media and not just social media (if we really  
have to categorize or separate social media from rest of the media at  
all). In the cases I discussed, Twitter was only one social medium in  
a configuration of multiple media. In some cases, text messages sent  
from a cellphone (with a dying battery (life)) proved most crucial. In  
medial configurations related to environmental movements I discuss,  
media include radiation detectors, protest performances, street  
graffiti: one could argue these media are pretty social. Much can be  
said about (and should be said about) surveillance in social media,  
data bodies and metadata collection,and journalists and activists  
battling surveillance (in social media) negotiate these challenges. A  
very everyday practical exercise I witnessed was platform jumping -  
shifting from one platform (where one's identity or anonymity is  
threatened or expression/article is blocked) to another.

Thanks, rahul

Quoting David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com>:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

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