Wednesday, 3 April 2013

ALIASupport: Last but not least, we'd like to thank social media


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.


  1. I dance with the members of Alias, and I can tell you that the energy and dedication that they bring is something you don't see everyday! When they asked me to support them by posting a picture of my self while creating the Alias hand symbol I was MORE than happy to do so! Perhaps the Alias-support campaign would be considered slacktivism, because all they really asked people to do was post a picture with a little blurb about themselves. However they deserve all the support they got and more! Their hard work clearly paid off, they received 1st place at the BYOB dance competition this past weekend, and what an honour it was to watch them win!

  2. It's great that you got such amazing support from the local dance community. To comment on the previous comment.. I think that we really need to change this use of the word slacktivism when people are sharing and reposing to support a community that is not asking for anything except for recognition and promotion. So koodos to all who did.

  3. Thanks for the recognition and support J Nabs! In reference to the idea of slacktivism though I must agree with Jel.P in that I don't believe the notion of slacktivsim necessary applies here for 2 reasons. The first being what Jel.P said, that all we wanted was recognition, support and a way to promote ourselves and our cause within the community. The second being that these people posting had to physical do something more than just click a button saying "I support." These contributors had to physically take a picture of themselves alone or in a group (which takes a little more effort sometimes), figure out how to make the hand symbol (more confusing than it looks, but less confusing than people think) and then they had to upload it and post it with a blurb about themselves, which was often, shockingly quite long. So the to do list in order to contribute their support may not have been extremely tiring, yet it did not take no effort at all. Moreover, many of our supporters came out to watch us dance at the competition, which we are extremely grateful for, and at the end of our routine they were all putting their hands up in the air with our ALIAS symbol. The audience was packed with people doing that. It was the most incredible experience and those supporters in the audience clearly did more than just click a button. For the aforementioned reasons, I would not consider the actions of the majority of our ALIAS supporters to fall under the category of slacktivism. Some may not agree, but that is my personal opinion.