Trump resistance brews online
The revolution may not be televised — but it apparently will be tweeted. And Facebooked. And Instagrammed.
Not long after President Donald Trump temporarily barred most people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., social activist Dex Torricke-Barton took to Facebook. “I’m thinking of organizing a rally,’’ he posted. Within a few hours, more than 1,000 people expressed interest. The resulting protest a week later, in front of San Francisco’s City Hall, drew thousands more.
Torricke-Barton is far from alone. From organizing protests on the fly to raising money for refugee and immigrant rights groups, people have been using social media to fuel the resistance against Trump in ways their organizing predecessors from the 1960s could have hardly imagined.
ROOTS OF PROTEST
In Queens, New York, for instance, a group of 27 women met up to write postcards to their state and local representatives during a “Postcard-Writing Happy Hour’’ organized through Facebook.
And on Ravelry, the social network for knitters and crocheters, members have been trading advice and knitting patterns for the pink “pussy hats’’ that emerged as a symbol during the Women’s March on Washington and similar protests elsewhere after Trump’s inauguration.
“This is an incredible project because it’s mixed between digital and physical,’’ says Jayna Zweiman, one of the founders of the Pussyhat Project. “We harnessed social media for good.’’
In 1969, activists planned massive marches around the U.S. to protest the war in Vietnam. The protests, called the Moratorium, drew millions of people around the world. But “it took months, a lot of effort, a national office of the organization to get it off the ground,’’ says Christopher Huff, a Beacon College professor focused on social movements of the 1960s. “The women’s march was achieved at a much larger scale at a fraction of the time.’’
This immediacy is both an asset and a disadvantage. While online networks help people rally quickly around a cause, Huff says, they don’t necessarily help people grasp the “longterm effort’’ required to sustain a movement.
ONLINE, THEN OFF
In Silicon Valley and across the tech world, Trump’s travel ban created a stir that went well beyond the industry’s usual calls for deregulation and more coding classes for kids. Between aggregating donations, issuing fiery statements, and walking out of work in protest, tech company executives and employees took up the anti-Trump cause at a scale not seen in other industries.