The promise of online social networking for pro-lifers

 

By Jonathan Rogers

Editor’s note. We are the eve of the last contribution to our year-long “Roe at 40” series in which we have brought you some of the best and certainly most representative stories that have appeared in National Right to Life News going all the way back to 1973. This story is of more recent vintage. It was written for the September 2009, issue by Jonathan Rogers who was at that juncture NRLC’s Field Coordinator. Beginning in November 2008, NRL News had run a series of articles about our Movement and “online social networking.” Mr. Rogers’ story is a fine example of how pro-lifers are putting social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to great use.

NRLCFacebookPagereLike ripples in a pond, information in today’s media-saturated world spreads further and further out, and with amazing speed. Let me offer a few examples of how it works for me.

I check Facebook routinely, and I tailor the list of “feeds” (information and links that other people are posting) to see what pro-lifers I know are talking about. At least once a week, I take an NRLC story, article, or factsheet, post it to Facebook, and send out a Twitter message (tweet). Generally, a few hours later I see that someone else has noticed the post, and put it up on their profile.

Breaking news today is very rarely released first by a major news organization anymore. When applied to social movements and causes, the growing collection of organizations, programs, and tools known as “online social networking” have given unprecedented new tools to individuals.

While media bias is alive and thriving, I would argue–as regrettable as it is that news outlets are not fair–that their lack of objectivity is not the onerous burden to pro-lifers that it was fifteen years ago. To be sure, having mainstream media outlets carry water for pro-abortion talking points is still a heavy club.

But fifteen years ago grassroots pro-lifers were limited in their ability to respond to the meta-narrative created by the pro-abortion movement and its legion of media sympathizers. We responded through word of mouth and in-house print media resources. NRL News or a chapter newsletter can do a wonderful job informing pro-lifers but that leaves many people who relied on the “mass media.”

Now, however, the medium known as “online social networking” or sometimes “the new media 2.0” has dramatically altered the playing field. With issues such as health care reform in the center of the public forum, a nationwide debate takes place. That is why a superior command of facts and the ability to prove that pro-abortionists are lying when they deny that their proposals would inject the abortion virus into the bloodstream of the entire medical system is all-important.

Today, the utility and ease with which pro-lifers capitalize on social media such as e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (to name just four) enable them to reach a very large audience with dispatch. Each individual may have a relatively small e-mail list or circle of Facebook friends they can reach (a hundred or so). But remember that thousands of other individuals across the country are doing the exact same thing with their lists of friends.

The overall effect is a “force multiplier,” amplifying in scope and influence the efforts of individuals because they are acting in concert. The Right to Life Movement is uniquely situated to take full advantage of this fact, because of its existing organizational structure and interconnected grassroots network that exists all over the country.

For example, I might see an interesting story posted by Rhode Island Right to Life, turn around and post it myself, and see it sent out a few hours later in Nevada or Arizona or Florida. Amazing!

NRLC is able to put together the best research and information on pro-life issues, and we do everything possible to educate the public through traditional outlets such as newspaper articles or TV and radio interviews. However, we are blessed because we have an army of grassroots individuals eager to take the information we provide and share it with others. The result is that we are dramatically expanding our reach.

Online social networking is, of course, a tool that can be used by the opposition as well. But the pro-abortion movement is hampered in this regard on two counts.

For one thing, they are not a true grassroots movement so much as they are a collection of moneyed interest groups. In addition, the natural human yearning for Truth means that self-evident humane vitae of an ultrasound YouTube video will trump a contrived case for “choice,” every time.

Perhaps the greatest attribute of online social networking is the fact that it is self-organizing. You see articles from NRLC talking about the need to be a part of social networking. The beauty is that the grassroots–you–have already been doing it for some time. We just are trying to make sure every pro-lifer takes advantage of these tools.

Online social networking transfers human conversation into cyberspace. It is composed of the same topics, concerns, and interests that you share with friends and family.

The beauty for pro-lifers is that we can use these tools to convey the most beautiful truth of all: the humanity of the unborn child. The Internet means the whole world is watching and listening.