Strong Ties

People read the Gospels for many reasons, but often because they want things to change. They want the world to be a kinder, more tolerant place. They want to transform themselves. They want justice and love where none exists.

We live in a world of social media. Facebook and Twitter are now ubiquitous, but are they good tools for social change? Malcolm Gladwell, in his New Yorker piece “Small Change,” argues compellingly that they are not. Social media is great for quickly building large networks of people that have only “loose ties” to one another. All the major social progress has been accomplished, in contrast, by well organized hierarchical structures where members have very strong ties to one another personally. Social media, he says:

“is simply a form of organizing which favors weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact.”

Like all of Gladwell’s articles, it is a great read. You’ll also learn what a logistical marvel Martin Luther King, Jr. was.

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