It seems to me that established activism groups have been slow on the up-take of potential benefits with social media and the internet. The recent Kony 2012 campaign proved this – a video designed with a specific SM strategy that went viral, while many other equally (if not more) important issues plodded along with candle-lit vigils or email petitions.
The question I’ve been pondering is – does any of it matter? 80 million views of a video is not going to get a man experienced in hiding in African jungles captured, neither are some candles in a city park far from Syria going to get Assad to resign.
When I protested in 2003 with 500,000 others against the Iraq invasion, even then it felt like the entire population of Australia couldn’t change Howard’s mind. It felt unlikely that any of the Occupy sit-ins were going to achieve anything, yet still those folk sat-in, and just like the war protests they changed nothing. The people that think the system is broken agreed with them from their lounge-rooms; while people who thought they were whingeing hippies continued yelling at them from their loungerooms to ‘get a job’.
GetUp and Avaaz – the online petition sites – appeal to me because I’m not so keen on writing personal letters, even though I know it might be more effective. I just feel like I have limited knowledge on whatever the topic is, and will be shot down by anyone who has access to advisors or funds for research. Slacktivism in action. It’s why the Kony campaign was at least effective in getting it’s message out – people felt like their click changed something. Which of course it didn’t. I have read some success stories from the online petition sites, but still feel a little hopeless with each click.
So, I’m a big sceptic (not the only one) but still participate in hope. Hope that someone will change their mind, but how often does that happen? Not just the powerful, but us commoners? About major things, not where to go for dinner. Major change sometimes meaning admitting we were wro…wr….wrong. Are our minds open enough to this?
I prefer changing my actions and sharing my slacktivism to writing letters and organizing protests; hopefully this encourages my framily to think a little about their own actions in whatever the cause. I hope this happens in any case. It certainly happens in reverse – when I witness the actions of my framily, it reveals a little about their beliefs, but also triggers me to consider my own thoughts on said cause. If I see a way I can improve I take it, even if it is just filling up on previously absent knowledge. Recent cases are – how little I knew about the plight of West Papuans; and re-enforcing the horrors that a colonialist approach has inflicted on Australia’s Indigenous peoples from 1778 until today. Is this how social evolution (rather than revolution) works – people sharing and being inspired by other’s actions? If so, social media is at the heart of battles to come, even if it is slacktivism.
Perhaps this is why I do this blog – because I have doubt that group activism makes lasting change and find it more likely to succeed through personal discussion with those closer to me. It’s also why people shouldn’t feel hesitant to share the good things they do. Just do it on Facebook please.
PS I think this post rambled a bit, but it’s been hanging about for days because it’s all been disjointed in my head….but I need to move on, and get it out there. An aim with the blog was for things to be clearer in my head if I wrote them down…hasn’t worked so well with this one.