“A global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.” (Source)
This definition has become more and more appropriate to the online world in recent history. The online world has always been an evolving one, but even in as little as 12 months, its outlook has changed entirely. We have gone from using Social Media to check up on what former peers are doing to using it in order to keep up with current affairs all over the world. These days we hear about terrorist attacks or whether warnings on Social Media before it is even reported on the news. With just a click of a button, we can find out the state of Puerto Rico after the hurricanes or discover who Donald Trump has tweeted an attack on any given day. And while, yes, the internet still houses the hundreds of thousands of cat videos and viewer’s response to the latest ‘Rick and Morty’ episode, it has become a more viable place to share thoughts on politics and culture around the world, thus making the term “Global Citizen” more fitting than ever before. In this essay, I will be looking at the impact the digital world has in our society right now and where it can go in the future.
One of the biggest political debates at the moment in Ireland is the Repeal the 8th movement, which wants to give Irish women a choice in what happens to their body in the event of a pregnancy. The majority of this campaign is done online but every year there is a march to show support for the campaign, here and around the world. It was, Saturday September 30th 2017, the day when over 40,000 people attended the March for Choice in order to campaign for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, here in Ireland. It was one of the biggest turnouts for a march since it began over five years ago. There were solidarity marches around the world which were showing support for the Irish people.
The following weekend, Vlogger Melanie Murphy premiered a short film called ‘Choice’ which highlighted the struggle for a young woman who had to travel to the UK for an abortion. The film garnered huge acclaim at Buffer Festival and won the Excellence in Cultural Experience Award at the Festival.
The Repeal the Eight movement is just one of the many campaigns that has been in the news in recent months. And it isn’t just cultural events that have been impacted by the Digital world; the political world has been hugely impacted by the Digital World, in particular, US politics. We can’t go a day without President Trump tweeted another opinion about his country or the people in it. In return, people have taken to Twitter to highlight their disapproval of Trump, even calling for his impeachment. People have even gone so far as putting names forward for the 2020 Election. But the names mentioned are not seasoned politicians, they are actors, musicians and personalities that are known for their outspoken views rather than their suitability for the role. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ron Perlman and Kanye West have all been mentioned for the role of President.
In a way, we have all become more political thanks to the Online World, we have become more aware of what is going on around the world, and people have realised that yes, they can make a difference even from the comfort of their own homes. The downside of this, however, is that there may be people commenting on political events who don’t have any experience or knowledge about the particular event. The ‘thoughts and prayers’ mentality in the online world has become our default response to world events, instead of ‘What can we do to help?’. During my first year of college, we did an assignment all about digital mapping in order to help aid workers in war-torn countries decide where they need to deliver aid to next. This is just one of the many ways that things can be done online. Where traditionally, fundraising could be done only through reputable organisations that either made traditional advertising campaigns for print, Television or simply going door to door. These days campaigns are found on our News Feed with some people even going so far as to have a link to the campaign they want people to support pinned at the top of their profile. This makes it more personal to people while also adding to the digital identity of the person who supports this particular cause.
There has also been an increase in personal fundraising too, with many people deciding to raise funds through sites like GoFundMe or Just Giving, which allows people to create funding for a specific cause that is close to their heart, like fundraising for a specific charity or even to pay for medical treatment that may be expensive. And with the power of social media, people from all over the world can help donate to a specific cause.
In fact, there was a case in American were a women attempted to crowdfund for an abortion in 2013. Her page was taken down multiple times so it is unlikely that her campaign was funded. But the idea that someone could in fact, raise funds for an elective procedure could lead to news ways for funding surgeries for people who may not have the fundings to begin with.
To conclude, the way that society has evolved in a way that allows us to help the less fortunate is amazing and the concept of crowd-funding medical treatments will grow and adapt, especially with the rise of medical costs for people will happen. It will be up to us, as citizens, to help look after the less fortunate and thanks to the Digital World, it will only get easier.