Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting Involved -- New Media Style

Got a comment yesterday from a facebooker who's starting her own group in support of the public option -- so I thought I'd go through some ways that individuals can affect the debate, but this time, with Web 2.0 sparkle! This will be difficult for me, as my level of social media savvy can be described as Yeti-like.
(Picture of me from If you crane your neck, you can see that I'm reading HR 3200 on a Dell Inspiron B130 laptop, held in my right hand.)

But my research savvy is average! So away we go:

Public option action on Facebook seems spread out, reasonably enough, among groups of friends -- one of the first and easiest things anyone can do is change their wall status to "I support a strong public option to reform our broken system of health insurance." or "I want lower health insurance costs, so I support a strong public option."

The next step would seem to be joining one of the fan clubs/interest groups. There's one with more than 11,000 members here, one directed at President Obama and the Senate here, and "I Support the Public Option" here. Abby's group, which I haven't been able to get through to yet, should be here shortly.

Twitter is actually -- this is the first time I've really rolled up my sleeves and gotten into it -- kind of cool, although I'll never use it due to the ancient Yeti law which requires me never to be fashionable. Congress uses it like nobody's business -- TweetCongress tracks the last tweets of all the standing members of congress and shows community responses as well. A lot of progressive-to-progressive conversation happens at the #publicoption hashtag, which you can search here, and is full of fast (although not always perfectly accurate) information that falls through regular media cracks (i.e. public statements an official might make that aren't important enough to warrant a news article, but which indicate that they're moving in one direction or the other on health care reform).

All in all, though, my gold standard for organizing is still Health Care for America NOW! -- professional, targeted pressure that is completely issue-specific and designed to create the maximum amount of change. Just in my region, they've got one event coming up in Los Angeles and two in San Francisco -- it's likely they've got something in yours, too.

Regardless of how you get involved, though, it comes down to the same few things: talk to your friends. Call and write your senator. Get your voice heard through letters to the editor, and your face seen through public demonstrations.

And why? Because courts from South Carolina to Los Angeles agree that insurance companies break their promises for the purpose of profit. We deserve at least one trustworthy option for insurance coverage so that no more HIV-positive teenagers or breast cancer victims are dropped by their insurers.

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