I was thinking the other day what Saul Alinsky would write about the Internet and social media sites like Facebook; and how he would strategize to use it for his own causes. Today, in the new digital age, I think Alinski would be a hacker, taking down websites of those he opposed to cause web chaos.
Nevertheless, in his book, Rules for Radicals, Alinsky wrote that, “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” This is one of the rules that the Left and now the Right has come to understand online.
The Internet can transform an organization or cause by making it look more powerful than it really is or weaker, depending on its online presence. A single YouTube video posted by an unknown person can launch an entire organization or movement.
Today, over 60% of young people get their news online. The majority of young people spend more than 7 hours per day connected to online media via their phone, ipod, or computer, often multi-tasking on sites such as Hulu, YouTube, and Facebook.
People of all generations turn to Google for answers, even for the most difficult questions. I’ve seen hearts and minds change on abortion because of these simple searches, when a student searches the words “unborn baby” and sees a 3D ultrasound a proud parent posted on YouTube or when a scared young girl finds a pro-life pregnancy help center when searching the word “abortion.”
At Students for Life of America (SFLA), we have used the Internet every step of the way to build our organization through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our website. On Monday night’s Expose Planned Parenthood Webcast (listen to the replay here: www.exposeplannedparenthood.net), SFLA along other pro-life leaders released a new site that combines social networking and online community organizing: AbolishAbortion.com.
We got the idea for the site after trying to figure out how to harness the power of Students for Life’s 630,000+ member Abolish Abortion Cause (www.causes.com/abolishabortion) on Facebook – a Cause that a student in Japan set up to benefit SFLA.
AbolishAbortion.com is an experiment, as it is the first of its kind. It’s one place a pro-lifer can go to get their “marching orders for the day.” Our goal is to get people plugged into the national pro-life movement by featuring various pro-life groups and Twitter feeds, job openings, webcasts, podcasts, and blog posts but also gives pro-life activists a place to create their own petitions, events, videos, and to speak their mind.
The site is not a replacement of Twitter or Facebook but is fully integrated with these sites so that actions taken on the site are automatically advertised on the activists’ feeds.
On Monday’s webcast, we asked pro-life activists to go to AbolishAbortion.com to donate their Facebook and Twitter status’ for Life. Once a day, AbolishAbortion.com will automatically update their status with a pro-life message to de-fund Planned Parenthood, a simple action that can educate a person’s entire Facebook or Twitter network about the grim reality of the nation’s largest abortion provider.
While sites like MoveOn.org have used the Alinsky power principles for inspiring and giving legitimacy to a small minority of online activists, my hope is that the pro-life movement, through the effectiveness of the Internet and Social Media outreach, is finally giving a voice for the voiceless and power back to the majority of Americans to end abortion in our lifetime.