It Feels like Activism (or Not)

Recently in GP class, we have been discussing the impact of social networking websites in raising awareness of global concerns and even encouraging the public to sign petitions or donate to worthy causes. Most of us would have received at least a few of these e-mails or Facebook ‘Notes’ urging us to forward the email or visit a website, and most of us would have clicked ‘Agree’ or ‘Accept’ often because out of respect for the friend who forwarded us the email or because we genuinely support the cause. After all, it can’t hurt, can it?

A Newsweek article I read a few weeks back actually writes that it does. The article mentions that the proliferation of social networking sites has spawned a new, but particularly superficial form of activism. It asks nothing more from participants than a few mouse clicks and makes everyone feel good. But these empty campaigns may not accomplish much, if anything, in the way of social change, and could even distract people from supporting legitimate causes. Take for example, a recent study by a psychologist from the University of Copenhagen which organized a Facebook campaign for a non-existent cause – to save a fountain in Copenhagen from demolition. Although no such demolition was ever planned, the original information which was distributed to 125 people eventually ballooned to more than 27,000 members signing up for the bogus cause.

Skeptics who bemoan this phenomenon claim that joining a Facebook group is perhaps the lowest-cost political activity ever imaginable, involving none of the commitment and dedication necessary to go out to protest – to say nothing of engaging in the hard work of organizing required for real political activity. The result? A feel-good, do-little kind of ’slacktivism’.

How you can use this blog entry:

Paper 1 (Impact of the Mass Media on Society, Globalization)

Paper 2 (AQ – Re-examining the influence of social networking sites)

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~ by irwin on May 25, 2010.

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