Use of “Social Networks” Strengthen Impact of Pro-Life Youth

By Kacie Dobson

Editor’s note. No year-long “Roe at 40” series would be complete without many stories from younger pro-lifers. This particular story ran in the January 2009 issue of National Right to Life News and explains the enormous significant of social networks to the pro-life cause. The references are dated, obviously (this was just after Obama was elected for the first time), but not the principles Kacie lays out.

Stand4LifeThe popular image of young people is of us with our faces glued to screens while we are constantly texting, checking e-mail, or updating our Facebook pages. The stereotype is that we are becoming increasingly disconnected from the world around us.

The truth is that through the use of cell phones, laptops, iPods, and online “social networks” such as MySpace, young people are not only staying connected with our peers but are also becoming more adept at keeping up with world events and helping to shape them. This familiarity with so many forms of information sharing is a great source of strength for the future of our Movement.

The November/December edition of National Right to Life News discussed the amazing capability of the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama to use social networks to organize and unify supporters (“What Can I Do to Help?”). This month, I’ll show you how our nation’s pro-life youth used social networking during the past election cycle and how we plan to use it for the battle ahead.

There are as many definitions of a “social network” as there are people. But for our purposes it means a “place” that friends or family or volunteers or business associates can visit to keep track of one another easily. Once I explain how pro-life young people used them, you will see how you can utilize social networks to help “Stop Obama’s Abortion Agenda.”

Facebook, one of the fastest-growing social networks, and MySpace, the largest social network, saw a lot of activity during the primaries and only grew busier as the November presidential election approached. Many of my young pro-life friends posted notes and blogs essentially online journal entries to explain why they were voting single-issue on abortion or to educate their friends regarding Obama’s record on abortion.

Since friends can leave comments on notes and blogs, these posts encouraged discussion among people who might not debate politics under other circumstances. This round-robin discussion forum helped hone our arguing and debate skills and gave us a real-world education in a subject we might otherwise only practice in a classroom setting.

Groups, another feature found on both Facebook and MySpace, allowed teens and college students to connect with pro-lifers of all ages across the nation. Facebook groups with names like “StopObamaInfo and ProlifeMcCain,” “The Economy will recover aborted babies won’t,” and “A Vote For Obama Is A Vote For Infanticide” began to spring up in support of the pro-life cause. Members of these groups posted videos, promoted events, shared links to news articles, and discussed the issues.

The video sharing and social networking site YouTube also played a very important role in our educational outreach. We uploaded, viewed, and shared campaign ads and other videos exposing Obama’s anti-life voting record. It’s important to understand that was just the beginning. These videos were also spread through e-mails, blogs, and various social networking sites, multiplying their impact.

Following the November 4 setbacks, I was encouraged to see other young people using social networks to express both their remorse for the unborn and their resolve to fight whatever harmful legislation the new administration might try to pass. We are already preparing for the coming battle by using the same groups and networks established during the election to inform others about Obama’s radical pro-abortion agenda.

Groups that provide information regarding [possible legislation] are currently educating and motivating pro-lifers so that we’ll all be ready to take action when Congress decides to consider this devastating piece of legislation, or any other. These pre-existing groups will also be used to promote pro-life educational events, such as this month’s National Teens for Life Summit, state conventions, the National Right to Life Convention, and various youth leadership camps this summer.

But please do not think this is just for young people. You don’t need to be a technology “wiz” to use any of these social networking tools. If you have a young person in the house, nine chances out of ten they use all of these vehicles. They can teach you how to use one or all of them in a very, very short period of time.

Through online social networks, the youth of our movement are becoming better connected with each other and with our cause. If we continue to nurture and encourage this exciting new trend, the future of the pro-life movement will only get brighter as our bonds grow stronger!

Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.