Before the internet, rebellious organization was a matter of phone calls, mailers and exposure on radio and television. Now, the internet has supplanted those mediums in all aspects. Social media, the chosen tool for change of the populous, has become the instrument to expose wrongdoing as many brands already know. A day before word broke on mainstream media sites of the unfortunate handling of Dr. David Dao’s forcible removal from a United Airlines flight, the story and civilian video of the incident were already making the rounds on sites like Reddit and Twitter, much faster than United could hope to try and administer damage control. News agencies were trying to convince people on Twitter to allow them to use personal cell phone video. Reddit exploded with one of the most united condemnations the site has seen in a long time, especially after many of the communities fractured after the last U.S. election
This isn’t the only example of open resistance that the internet has fostered. Pepsi’s recent doomed advertisement that suggested you could stop police brutality with a soft drink drew comparisons to cult movie They Live, where the main protagonist discovers that the ruling class in our culture are actually aliens manipulating the populace into spending money, breeding, and acceptance of the status quo through subliminal messaging in advertising. This parallel is just one instance of the broad denouncement that the brand suffered, especially for its stereotypical depiction of Millennials and trivialization of societal issues. This all resulted in Pepsi pulling the ad just days after its premier.
Social media is continuing to grow resistance movements, fueled in part by the recent rise of populist and nationalist policies and attitudes in global politics such as the passage of the controversial Brexit, the U.S. election of Donald Trump and the scandal that continues to follow Marine Le Pen, the far right French presidential candidate.
Social media has also proven itself to be the source that more and more consumers are turning to for information as the threat of “Fake News” continues to be very real and people are having a harder time deciding what is real and what isn’t in the media. This shift towards word-of-mouth and personal sourcing is legitimizing the movement once dubbed “armchair activism,” and creating a whole new information ecosystem based more around facts and truth and less around sensationalism and click bait.
We could be entering a new era of investigative journalism that once again values the questioning of authority, and because of the use of technology, the questioning of our perceived reality.