Today I want to talk about a recent event in my life that caused my own true realization of how incredibly powerful participatory media is. I will share with you the story that has taken place over the last few weeks of my life and you will come to better understand my newfound passion and appreciation.
I am a proud member of a truly inspiring hip hop dance team at Wilfrid Laurier University that is called ALIAS. Our name stands for, A Legacy to Inspire Achieve & Share. We only formed as a group in September and have since competed in two reputable university wide competitions: OUCH & BYOB . We did extremely well at both competitions, however, to me our placement does not matter, which is why, despite our overall success, I am leaving that information out of this post. The section of this story I would like to dwell on is specifically related to support, but not just any support, support through participatory media.
Approximately a mere week before we competed at BYOB 2013 on March 30th, our choreographer and mentor came up with the incredible idea of ALIASupport. The idea behind this was to use our ALIAS hand symbol (which spells out ALIAS) in order to raise awareness of our team, our drive and genuine intentions to inspire, achieve and share in the dance community and beyond; most importantly, though, to get people in our community that knew about us to personally get involved in showing their individual support through taking a picture of themselves doing our hand symbol with a blurb about themselves. They were then to post their support on our ALIASupport page on Facebook for everyone to see.
The support that started to rapidly roll in after this was launched was unbelievable! By the end of the week we had received over 100 pictures!!! In the dance community, especially in the small Waterloo dance community, that is AMAZING. Moreover, when individuals and teams from other schools outside of Waterloo started taking part in this, it was most inspiring, as we understood this was a real movement that had affected more people than we ever thought it would. As sentimental and emotional as the thought of this makes me, reflecting back now, I recognize that this would have been impossible without the magic of the Internet and social media. The opportunities granted to us thanks to technology are truly remarkable. Moreover, the ability to motivate action offline, such as taking a picture individually or with a group, in order to support a cause you believe in or in order to feel like a part of something bigger by contributing something so simple goes to show us how people feed off of that online connection to others - be it around small town Waterloo or around the globe. The online public sphere and global village connects us on a level we had never known prior to social media. It allows for the cultivation of movements that have the ability to make a real small or large scale impact as a result of speed, ease of use and personal connections.
Having said this, I realize it is necessary for me to thank not just all of our contributing ALIASupporters but social media for making this support movement possible. We couldn’t have done it without you.