In today’s society, you can learn almost everything you need to from what’s trending. As someone who makes a living by posting, tweeting and hash-tagging, the impact of social media has always been fascinating to me; more so now than ever before. And though I hide behind a screen for 40 hours a week, my true passion will always be the outdoors.
The environment, just like social media, is changing. And unlike updates and upgrades, the environment isn’t changing for the better.
It’s this passion for the outdoors, and this fascination with social media, that made me outraged, astonished, and appalled when the EPA and National Park Service Twitter handles were silenced by one particular. oranged-face “leader” in January. In a country where everyone can marry whomever they choose (for now and, hopefully, forever), it was baffling how social media accounts whose purposes are to inform, educate, and rally support were effectively told to “shut up.”
Luckily, as we all know, orders don’t always have to be followed (especially downright ridiculous ones) and a few brave employees went rogue. A word that, up until a few months ago, was popular only due to its attachment to Star Wars, but is now a powerful movement I’m proud to support.
Like wildfire, articles, tweets and applause began to spread. Who was behind these rogue accounts, and would their significance create anything but a few retweets and Buzzfeed articles? We may not know who, but we do know their significance.
Today, @AltNatParkSer has gained over 86,000 followers on Twitter, with many of the other rogue and alternative accounts also reaching around and above those numbers as well. I’d say that is significantly more impressive than some 3 a.m. Twitter rant about someone of significance.
Of course, not everyone recognizes the import of these accounts, however, because of these accounts, important information, research, and updates are now being shared with the world.
Twenty-five years ago, the idea of protecting what matters by using a social media platform would have been preposterous. In today’s society, however, as opposed to buckling when a “ temporary media blackout” was issued, a few employees stood up for what they believe in and ultimately created a massive online campaign that generated thousands of followers and media press coverage.
While the press coverage and outreach is obviously fantastic and inspiring, what does it all mean? Can we protect what really matters (the outdoors, the environment, the future) by following these accounts, retweeting them, and sharing their articles? Maybe, maybe not...but I do know that it is causing a ruckus. And a good one at that.
People stepping up and being vocal, in real life and online, has, in three months time, gathered hundreds of thousands of supporters and has united people to act. As a New York Times article discussed, the alt-majority movement can marshal crowds quickly, create catchy branding (e.g. the Pussy Hats at the Women’s March) and raise money...fast. Such as when the ACLU raised over $20 million in one weekend. If you think that doesn’t mean anything, then I’m calling your bluff.
Social media might not be able to overthrow, but it can spark ideas and persuade those who may not have fought, to fight; without ever even leaving their computer.
The power of social media is a double-edged sword, though, as the 2016 election showed us firsthand. As the Vox article, “The year social media changed everything” pointed out, “the alt-right used social media to spread fake news and manufacture reality distortion,” which helped elect hate, but becoming a part of the resistance, the “rogue fighters,” can also enact change.
I encourage you to follow the rogue social media accounts. I encourage you to continue donating to causes that protect our waters, our lands and the places we play. I encourage you to rise up and become a part of this social media movement.
Why do it? Because it only took a few people to create the movement, but it will take everyone to continue unleashing its power. Social media might be killing our face-to-face interactions, but it might just save our environment.