Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I'm very lucky that Ian agreed to write today's post on yesterday's historic Supreme Court decisions and the role social media played for millions of Americans and people around the world. Thank you Mr. Grady.
Yesterday was a huge win for same-sex couples and their families across the country. For hundreds of thousands of families – and many more to come – the Constitution’s promise of freedom and equality became more real. These are momentous legal victories.
It was also an incredible day for the Internet and social media. Almost exactly three months after the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group Human Rights Campaign gained widespread notoriety for “turning Facebook red” during the oral arguments in the two marriage cases, the internet and social media were again abuzz with talk of freedom, love and lots of red things. So many red things.
And if your feed is anything like mine (be it on Facebook or Twitter), then you also saw myriad political advocacy groups, politicians and even well-known brands join the fray to mark and celebrate the Supreme Court’s historic decisions.
For supporters of the freedom to marry all across the country, connectedness with fellow celebrators was just a click away. A friend in my feed very aptly posted, “I've discovered perhaps one of the biggest perks of social media is the power of shared experience. No longer do you have to wonder if it's weird to sit and cry when equality wins. Some days it's nice to be connected.”
Indeed it is.
But, more than just a sense of connection, the Internet offered people information – instantaneously and with abundance. The Supreme Court remains an institution of antiquated communications – they still issue printed copies of the rulings on actual paper, and there are no cell phones allowed inside the court room. The Court’s watchers, however, are on the cutting edge. ScotusBlog.com, who saw a meteoric rise in popularity during the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obama-Care), was live-blogging all the decisions for the past several days. They churned out information via this live-blog and on Twitter, all in real time.
The Supreme Court is not a celebrity institution. While working at a bakery in Cambridge, MA I served food to a charming man named Stephen Breyer for several weeks before realizing that he was Stephen G. Breyer, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. And I’m a huge nerd. Yet, these cases, and more importantly their robust coverage by sites like ScotusBlog, have meant a whole legion of people who are closely watching the Court and its members. People asked questions about Justice Ginsburg’s ability to do push-ups; comments were made on the baking prowess of members’ of the Court’s Public Information Office staff and people learned more about the oddest of the customs in the United States’ highest court (for example, decisions are issued in order of reverse seniority, or how many justices in history have worked in all three branches of government).
And we’re not talking just a small pack of weird, gay-politics obsessed nerds here. We’re talking about a HUGE pack of weird, gay-politics obsessed nerds. The exact numbers aren’t available for Wednesday, but on Tuesday the site had a peak live-blog viewership of over 125,000 and more than 274,000 unique views on the day. Wednesday saw more than 200,000 live-blog viewers. So, if the same math holds, total viewership was likely around 450,000.
Some people are eager to wax philosophical about how the Internet has harmed our attention spans, our relationships and even our ability to care about things. The enormous attention and community focused around yesterday’s decision are a great argument against that. The real question, though, is whether this energy can be continually harnessed to win marriage in the 37 more states that lack it, and the other basic rights that LGBT people lack all across the country.
Here’s to hoping, and to all the happy couples out there.
Prior to his current role with EQME, Ian was the deputy director of communications & director of digital for Mainers United for Marriage (Maine's 2012 "Yes on One" campaign). Ian also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as a public relations strategist for TEDxDirigo.
You can read my interview with Ian here.
PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
A special thank you to Jill and Trish for allowing Ian to use their Facebook post.Tweet
Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.
Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).
Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg
His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).