Peace and Justice Event Shows How Social Media Builds Peace

Mireya Berrios

The Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) arranged a week events encouraging global peace from September 24th through the 27th.  Rebecca Newman, a professor at Valencia College, held a presentation at the Valencia East Campus on Monday morning regarding how social media can be good despite its addictive and dangerous features.

The event began with a viewing of Erick Qualman’s Social Media Revolution Series that provided many interesting facts about those that socialize online.

“That’s wild,” a student in the audience said when he found out that the fastest growing number of people on Twitter are elderly folks.

“Dangerous,” said one audience member when asked to name one negative stereotype of social media. “Addicting,” said another student to add on the list. Multiple students agreed in unison before learning that social media can be used for good and peace.

Not only can social media spread awareness, but it can make things easier for people. “There are a lot of cool uses of social media that can improve your life rather than hinder you from it,” Newman said. She went on to list things such as studying, doing work, making friends, and connecting with distant colleagues.

Fundraising campaigns have grown on social media, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge that raised money for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). “It was a fun social media campaign and it raised over 220 million dollars for ALS research,” she said.

One of the reasons why Newman decided to speak about the good aspects of social media was because “I think they are a lot of negative stereotypes about social media and they are not all true. There are a lot of good things people can do with social media. Raise awareness about different causes and movements and I just wanted to share that with people.”

When asked how social media has brought peace to her life, Newman mentioned that she was a member of Moms Demand Action, an organization dedicated to gun reform in America. “We use social media all the time to communicate with each other, to spread our mission and our message. We are not going to be satisfied with the gun laws right now, we want there to be stricter background checks and one way to do that is to use social media to get our message out to the masses,” she said. The campaigns used by Moms Demand Action are a prime example of utilizing social media to spread a message.

Social media has expanded greatly over the past decade. More Americans are making online profiles. In 2008, 10% of people were using social media profiles but that number escalated. In 2018,  77% of people have social media.  “That’s amazing growth in a very short period of time but I also think none of us should have been surprised by this,” said Newman.


DISCLAIMER: Professor Newman is one of the faculty advisors for the Valencia Voice.