My last semester of graduate school has arrived! Despite my excitement about this forthcoming accomplishment, this last hurdle to freedom means that I have to write my capstone – I shudder when I remember the frantic feeling that was present when I wrote my undergraduate thesis. I sat down a few weeks ago to hash out ideas for my capstone; what topic was I going to want to examine, study, and write about for four months? I’ve always been really intrigued by social media – its uses, applications, culture, all of it. Over the course of my MS program, I’ve become really interested in organizational communication. Ta-da! I had found a basis for my topic: social media use in social movements. Now I was left to whittle down to a more detailed topic and figure out what methods I wanted to use while exploring my topic. A few cups of coffee and a slice of cheesecake later and I had my plan, complete with a title.
The Digital Wave: How Social Movements Take Flight on Social Media
The title is pretty self-explanatory, but I want to examine how specific social movements use social media to manage their identity and accomplish their goals. Do social movements use social media effectively? Are social movement’s able to accomplish their desired goals and outcomes by using social media? Do they post in conjunction with ‘on the ground’ efforts or on social media alone? Do they monitor their own posts and the posting of their friends to ensure “accuracy” in the eyes of readers?
To answer all of these questions, I decided to use both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data. I will be conducting interviews with volunteers. I will also be distributing a survey to gather answers to questions regarding social media use in social movements. My goals are really to dive into the topic and examine it under a lens of interpersonal communication and network theory. I want to see how individuals that are a part of social movements use and prohibit social media compared to their personal life and compared to individuals that are a part of different social movements. I’m curious as to whether it varies industry to industry (i.e. are some industries more prone to have activists on social media), and I hope to find out how an individual’s social media activism might shape the movement, as well as the success of the movement.
So, it’s time to hit the ground – and the library – running!