We love the Internet because it supports our overwhelming desire to have a larger influence over what happens in our lives. This fundamental longing to control our destiny has inspired every successful political movement in the last 250 years, whether it was the American Revolution or the fight against Communism in Eastern Europe.
Now, a few decades later, our need to exert real influence over the larger activities of life continues. We see countless examples of individuals, much like ourselves, employing digital tools to create sparks, ignite fires, and shine bright lights on alleged injustices, misdeeds, or desired changes. People all over the planet use their computers and smart phones to confront organizations, forcing them to pay closer attention to what they are saying, thinking, and doing.
The Trayvon Martin tragedy is an excellent case in point. As Brian Stelter reported in The New York Times, the story gained traction when people started talking on Facebook and Twitter about what George Zimmerman, the alleged shooter, did on the night of February 26 in Sanford, Florida. It took a few weeks before the mainstream media began to pay attention. But they did, and the case became a national fixation.