For years I have talked of my four reasons for hope: the energy, commitment, passion and sometimes courage of young people once they are aware of the problems facing us, and are empowered to take action; the human brain; the resilience of nature, and the indomitable human spirit.
It was during the Climate March in September 2014 in New York that I suddenly realized there was another reason for hope. As I walked with Al Gore, the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and his wife, the French foreign minister, the Peruvian environment minister and others, I could see, all around, people with their cell phones. They were using Facebook, tweets and twitters to tell their friends about what was happening, telling them to come and join in, that it was neat.
Those organizing the march had expected perhaps 100,000. In fact there were, in the end, almost 400,000. They kept coming until eventually the police had to draw the line. There were just too many. And later I discovered that 1,574 organizations participated, 50,000 college students,and there were 630,000 social media posts. Subsequently 5,200 articles were written. And it wasn’t just New York. I discovered that there were 2,646 separate events in 162 countries, attended by more than 100 heads of state. It was the largest global march in history. And without social media this could not have been.
Then there was the March for Elephants and Rhinos in 2014 which took place in more than 120 locations (even Antarctica!). Hundreds of thousands of people marched – and the numbers swelled as the different events were posted in cities around the world using Facebook’s event manager/postings.
There are so many more examples of people becoming involved in an event, learning about an issue, as a result of social media. People from all around the world were able to participate in my 80th birthday because JGI used Twitter and Facebook to get the word out, using the hashtag #80yearsofJane. Thousands of people celebrated the day – without social media this could not have been possible
For years I have been saying that every individual matters. I say to you now, your voice matters – and now you have a new way to let your voice be heard. So please do make use of the social media. Do tweet or twitter of use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and all the other tools available through social media, to get your message out, to join campaigns that you are passionate about. It is by acting together, in this exciting way, that we can involve thousands – millions – of people, and this is what is going to change the world. This is how we can stand up to the giant multinationals that are harming our planet to satisfy their lust for immediate profit, never thinking of those who will inherit the world that they have so degraded.
So, happy #SocialMediaDay to you all! To celebrate this important day, the Jane Goodall Institute and I have joined Snapchat! We invite you to follow our adventures in this new and exciting way by following us at @janegoodallinst.