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I want my children to be aware of the issues facing world they live in, and to be prepared to be active participants in making it a better place. We have been reading the Constitution and Civil Rights Supreme Court cases together, and it has sparked some interesting conversations about the current situation in our country. We are using history in combination with current news to start conversations and inspire activism. Truth be told, it is still the more old fashioned way to become an activist.

What seems like ages ago – but is really only a few years ago - we would have to read newspapers and watch the six o’clock and eleven o’ clock news to find out what was going on in the world. Even then, it was just a glimpse, a highly curated series of snapshots of events that had happened hours before. Just moments, a few images, and commentary, chosen by the media higher ups, and deemed by them to be worthy of broadcast were shared for a few hours a day on network television, and those same moments were replayed over and over again on a 24 hour loop on cable channels dedicated to news.

These days, just about everyone, not just main stream media leadership, has the opportunity to share what they believe in and become part of a movement. We all influence what becomes news. Within seconds of a shooting caught on a cell phone video made by a bystander and posted on social media outlets like Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, a hashtag is created that becomes the online address of the movement… the new frontline… the new lunch counter… the new streets… where people from all over the world meet to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, stories, and solutions. Times are changing, and the people over at AT&T are asking the question, “what does it mean to be an activist in this ever evolving age of social media?”

Earlier this summer, AT&T kicked off this year’s inspired mobility conversation at Blogging While Brown with LeCrae and Jason Caston who asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the Charleston church shooting. Through social media, the global community started conversations on racism and violence. We grieved together, and we tried to heal together. Images of oneness were shared on social media, and people of all races, ages, and backgrounds were inspired to engage in difficult conversations online and off. On October 23rd, Jason Caston, creator of the iChurch Method, hosted a Google Hangout with James Andrews, founder of The True Story Agency, and author and film producer DeVon Franklin to discuss social media for the social good as part of the Inspired Mobility conversation sponsored by AT&T.

“Nothing has changed with being an activist…. It’s believing in something, believing in a cause, believing in a mission, having faith in something…. Standing for something.” ~ James Andrews

According to James Andrews, what social media has done for those wanting to make a change is provided a platform that is easily accessible for telling our stories.

“It has opened up a new avenue for activism, and when people galvanize around an issue, it is every easy to bring attention and awareness to that issue very quickly.” ~ DeVon Franklin

When not all of us can take to the streets where the protests and demonstrations are happening, we can all use, as DeVon Franklin mentions, “…mobile devices, computers, laptops, smartphones… it helps bring awareness to the issues that really matter.”

We are all well aware of the impact of #blacklivesmatter as a movement, online and offline. It was more than a hashtag. It not only brought attention to a pressing social issue here in America, but globally. It also created a way to gather the issue, social media stories, and ideas under one umbrella. We can see the story with just one click on Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook. “History will look back and say, ‘wow,’” says Franklin, “ ‘look at the impact of technology as it relates to social activism… If you didn’t have the internet, would Black Lives Matter have been as successful as it has been?” He goes on to say that, “regardless of where you are just by using that hashtag, you are able to connect with what’s going on in the country.”

Can anyone just jump in and join the conversations and become an activist or contribute to the social good on social media? Theoretically, yes. However, James Andrews reminds us that each platform has its own culture and tone that users must learn in order to engage with other users successfully and to share their ideas effectively.

Once you have tailored your message to appeal to the users in the different communities and on the different platforms on social media, how do you get your message out there and encourage engagement and sharing? DeVon Franklin encourages social media managers, influencers, and those interested in sharing their messages to be creative, because with all of the voices out there now, people really respond to messages that are different.

So what is the difference between online activism, using social media for social good, and offline efforts to spark change? Jason Caston believes that with advances in technology, those lines will continue to be blurred. To learn more about how one organization, or one person, can use technology to inspire, uplift, and make changes in the global community, follow the #inspiredmobility hashtag. Use the hashtag to share your thoughts and join in the conversation. Check out AT&T’s Inspired Mobility Google Hangout in its entirety to hear from Jason Caston, James Andrews, and DeVon Franklin about how they use social media for the social good, and how you can too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgHR2kjDlu8

Join the conversation on Twitter. Follow @att and tweet using the hashtag #InspiredMobility. To learn more about Inspired Mobility and the research behind the program, visit http://tinyurl.com/InspiredMobility.

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated as an AT&T Inspired Mobility blogger. All opinions are my own.


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