Social Media and Environment

Fostering Sustainability using Social Media

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Why is sustainability important:

After the industrial revolutions and modernization, the world population has been struggling less to get the basic jobs done. Luxury and Lavishness has become a part of regular man’s life. Everybody wants comfort and more. Everybody wants to look good. As a result of all these, excessive consumption is happening. The video below is from the now popular storyofstuff.com and reinforces the pattern of increasing human consumption.

Video on Excessive Consumption

Do Social Factors influence this phenomenon?

People’s sustainable behavior is highly dependent on social factors. If everybody around you is jogging everyday early in the morning, then you will probably also do the same. As the video also shows, Consumption in the western/developed countries is way above what it is in the third world countries. So clearly social and cultural factors influence the way people think and consequently what they buy and how they consume. So I hypothesize that Social media can be used as a long term tool to influence people to consume in a sustainable manner.

Using Social Networking for Sustainable behaviour:

A movement has to begin and continue propagating. Civic engagement and Collective action are possible through social media. Mathew Heck in this article-  http://techchange.org/2013/07/02/social-movements-and-social-media-spark-a-movement-change-the-world/ argues that “social media has fundamentally changed the way that governments, nonprofits, companies, universities, and individuals interact with each other and with their communities.”  There are numerous instances to exemplify this. India was shaken by a huge anti-corruption movement for a duration of more than a month and it is an ongoing movement. This was spearheaded by the ardent Anna Hazare who went on a hunger strike demanding the passing of the Jan lokpal bill to institute measures against corruption, which is rampant in India and greatly responsible for its economic downfall. There are also examples of such movements from Ukraine, Egypt etc.

There are no doubt a number of NGOs and Non-profit organisations with their own websites, blogs, discussion forums and facebook pages where they propagate several good things like Educating the poor, Women empowerment, environmental protection and so on and so forth. But these are not targeting the minds of people. These are not engaging enough for the existing audience to be sufficiently motivated and remain the same nor are they attracting new audience. A lot of them seem to be stagnating after a point. This could be changed. Active involvement has to be propelled. Can social media fundamentally affect the thinking of a person so that his/her habits and way of life change? If so to what extent? These are some questions that are food for thought. If simple online presence is not working, may be they could be some in-person meetups and activities.