Fighting Inertia to Create Change
Inertia is, I believe, the biggest barrier to creating community change. The inertia I am referring to is not only physical—it is also psychological, emotional, and spiritual. It is deeply engrained, and deeply personal. It is the belief that we have no choice but to continue doing what we are already doing. It is the belief that there is little or nothing we can do about our existing problems; that it is easier to continue living life “as is” than it is to mobilize something different. Whether it is the woman living in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic husband, the staggering statistics of over 90% of women in some regions of the world undergoing the horrors of female genital mutilation, or the seemingly eternal conflict over wealth and territory in the Middle East, the reaction is often the same: “what can I do about it?” So we learn to do nothing, and to continue on with our lives “the best we can” as individuals. We forget that we have the community behind us. We don’t realize how many others want to see the same changes we do.
Change is hard. It often takes a significant force to move people (or a community) into action. As a social worker, my clients have taught me that two independent factors must be present in order to create change: (1) people must be personally motivated to create change and (2) people must believe that they possess the ability to make change happen.
I believe that social media and online communities such as Pulse Wire have the potential to address both of these needs. Reading stories of women who are not necessarily in high or powerful positions, yet who are making significant changes in their communities is extremely motivating to me. These are stories I would not otherwise be able to hear—stories that are not often covered in more traditional media outlets. Learning how these women have come to address needs in their own communities, and having the opportunity to directly connect with them, is extremely empowering. It not only contributes to my own belief that I too have the ability to create change, but it also provides a direct outlet for women with the same goals and interests to support one another and to share both resources and expertise—thereby actually building and increasing capacity as well.
This is not to say that social media holds the key to overturning all of our current global social problems. Social media is one potential outlet to motivate and capacitate us to make change happen. It is still up to us to do the work.