Have you typed a letter or picked up the phone to complain about something, only to receive a negative response or, worse, no reply at all? Well, last week I came across a story about one woman’s complaint that snowballed into a campaign… with interesting results.
It was while scanning UCB’s (United Christian Broadcasters) Facebook page that I stumbled upon a link to the website of Christian Action Research & Education (CARE), a Christian charity working towards greater respect for the sanctity and value of human life.
There, a blog written by CARE’s Head of Churches Department, Gareth Davies, detailed the organisation’s campaign against two shirts being sold by clothing retailer Next. A customer who had complained about the picture and wording on the shirts – without success – called CARE to see if the organisation would have more clout.
What intrigued me most about the story was the amazing way in which the social media machinery ground into action to create a groundswell of support.
Beating the drums
Gareth explains that first he wrote a blog for CARE’s website arguing the shirts were offensive not only because the picture on them (under a headline ‘Sinners’) objectified women, but because a quote from the Bible was being used to encourage this.
Second, he publicised the campaign on Twitter. This prompted others to send direct tweets to Next expressing their displeasure with the image and text, and some personally blogged about it. Then Gareth posted a question to Next on their Facebook page: ‘Why are you marketing graphic t-shirts with misogynistic poses of women in underwear and promoting such images using The Bible?’
At this point, Next agreed to look into the matter.
Twitter users with larger followings also began applying pressure, and when a Daily Mail journalist picked up on the story and contacted Next’s PR department, the company agreed to withdraw the clothes from sale – and this all on the same day!
Using media for good
I’m certain that as Christians we can think of many negative aspects to using social media like Facebook and Twitter. But, as with most things in life, they can also be used for good. Surely, exercising them to engage with others about issues that really matter to us, can be for good.
Whether we share CARE’s objections to the Next shirts or not, we would do well to heed the potential power of social media, and to prayerfully consider the ways we might embrace it to help bring God’s kingdom to earth – from encouraging each other in our faith, to taking a stand against global evils and injustices.
Social networking… positive or pathetic? What do you think?