Colour me rainbow: does social media equal social change?


Verandah Magazine’s digital marketing expert Lucy Birchley looks at the world-wide explosion of rainbow all over our digital media in support of same sex marriage during the last week.

People all over the globe are celebrating the American Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same sex marriage in all 50 states. In the last week the Internet has almost  exploded in rainbows. Facebook profile photos have become multi-coloured flags, conversations about marriage equality are trending on Twitter and millions of people are sharing videos of pride parades.

Every social media platform has become an explosion of colour as brands, buildings, people and organisations show their support for same sex marriage. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch, but the question I want to pose is whether this rapid change in public opinion have been possible without social media?

I think it’s easy to forget the sheer magnitude of the change that the Internet has brought to our lives. I believe a link could be made between the growth of people championing marriage equality and the growth of global communication through both social networks and the Internet in general; although I’m unaware at the moment of anyone who might have already started this research.

What I can tell you is that American research company Pew Research conducted a poll in 2001, which shows that 57% of Americans opposed same-sex marriage. In 2015 that number has dropped to just 39%.

I can also tell you that it took American President Barrack Obama only minutes to tweet to his 2.99 million followers on his @POTUS account in support of the Supreme Court’s decision. And in the following four hours 6.2 million tweets made mention to the landmark decision worldwide. Which works out to roughly 20,000 tweets per minuet according to Twitter.

While a lot of opinion pieces focus on how the Internet alienates us, makes us less social, poorer communicators, grumpy, sad or mad, this incredible rainbow wave of support would I believe suggest that social media at its best is a tool that spreads ideas and ignites conversations.




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