The news story of the day is the dentist from Minnesota who reportedly killed a lion in Zimbabwe that was being used in a research project for Oxford University. Thirteen-year-old Cecil was lured out of the bush at night, shot with a bow, took 40 hours to die before being skinned and beheaded.
Understandably, social media has erupted over this event [graphic images] and apart from scathing Yelp reviews of the dentist's practice, an online petition has been set up that already has over 111,000 signatures -- and climbing as I write -- demanding "Justice for Cecil."
This is very similar to the recent activity over the female hunter who received death threats after a photo of her [graphic images] was posted next to a kill.
As a kid, I read a short story in the newspaper once about some guy that had hurt a dog. The way the story was written made it seem like a joke. I was 11 and outraged!
I ran to get my pen and notepad, and crafted a letter chastising the newspaper about its insensitivity. Into the envelope, on with the stamp and off it went in the mail. I didn't expect to get any response.
But the week later they printed my letter with an apology. I was extremely happy with that. I felt like I had made some small difference to redress the balance.
The point I'm trying to make in this convoluted way is that "communications technology" has come a long way from the humble written letter into the all-encompassing Internet. When you see something terrible online now, it takes five seconds to share it around the world, perhaps with some comments of your own.
It's MUCH easier to give an opinion, or protest at something, or raise awareness. Sometimes these things have legs and they follow people around, sometimes they peter out more rapidly.
Does something shared on social media have more impact than a written letter from an angry 11-year-old? Not sure.