An activist who “likes” is no activist indeed

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Social media has allowed for the greater discussion of global issues all around the world. The stories and issues that would be untold or changed by governments is no longer the case, the turmoils and oppression people face from those in power can be shared, questioned and fixed. In a time where social media is a part of everyday life what does it mean to rise-up and do something – to be an activist.

One aspect of social media – particularly seen on Facebook we are greeted by dozens of emotionally triggering images or sayings that promote a cause and “allows” for an action. These pictures allow for an individual to show support – by “liking” the photo and this “like” is seen as a form of respect or a prayer, or seen as a trade-off for a supposed dollar donation. This participation in supporting a cause is limited, what is accomplished from liking a picture? What happens after someone likes one of these images – a sense of contribution and accomplishment for the like, knowing that you made an effort and the world is a little-bit better.

When it comes to issues of racism, abuse, poverty and sustainability, social media allows for these issues to be shared, though the effort of getting people to do something more than just liking a photo is needed. Social media is the medium to get the message across though the effort people are going-to-go-to to accomplish a change deals with more than the liking of a photo on social media.

Evgeny Morozov, in this article proclaims that social media is just a tool to get information and awareness of issues across. The awareness that social media can bring deals with a mass audience, but to get that mass audience to do something, deals with much more than just the awareness social media allows. The example in the article is the issue that happened in the Middle East called on social media as “Arab Springs”. Arab Springs dealt with the oppression from the government and the uprising of the public to overthrow the government. The start and success of the Arab Springs was sought to be because of social media, though the dedication, emotion and government oppression was felt by a vast amount of people that would lead to a change.

When it comes to social media – the intent of starting a protest is something to be desired. When issues are brought to mass attention a lot of people will just be a slacktivist and disregard any idea of creating change. There is something more than just spreading word of an issue to rally up the troops and topple governments. Social media is the tool to get messages across but not the entire reason why change occurs.

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18 responses »

  1. I think that most of the people that like or sharing something like a picture above or something that related to a protest, they doesn’t think that they will take part in it. They just click like because it is very easy to do and it make them feel good because they think that they already help. Most people that click share does not really interested in protest or even have thought of joining a protest. But why do they still click share or like? It is because it can easily be done and its make them feel good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without having had to actually gets one’s hands dirty or open one’s wallet, this is call slacktivism.

  2. While I do agree that social media is only a tool, and liking a status to spread or agree with a political message is almost pointless. But it is up the the people in power, the governments, to take note of what the public is saying. It’s one thing to fault the public for sitting by and participating in “Clicktivism” but its the people who actually have the power to do something about it, and don’t, who are the people at fault.

    The public doesn’t have much more power than their vote, and their voice on social media. It is pretty much all they can do, they have their own problems to worry about. People speaking up and spreading awareness in the spare time they do have is the biggest step possible. It’s about forcing people to understand that we do know there are things happening, and you need to do something about it, because thats why you’re in power.

  3. But I want to add that at this point in time, it is using the Internet up to its current potential. At the moment, people seem to ignore what happens on the Internet, but hopefully in the future, the voices and opinions of the people online will mean a lot more to those that we elect to make a difference.

  4. It is true those ‘like if you agree’ kind of things are stupid and don’t exactly do or accomplish anything. It’s an easy way to feel as if you are doing something. I agree with Morozov, social media is a tool that can be used to raise awareness to issues. I do not believe that social media was the sole reason that protests started in the Arab springs, I think that if an issue is affecting your life so directly you will be more motivated to do something about it, hence why these ‘like if you agree’ posts are not very effective for actually doing anything. They make you sympathize with the issue but later on you forget about it and don’t actually do anything about it, because whilst something like animal cruelty is bad it doesn’t directly effect you.

  5. I feel that social media campaigns depend on the campaign. Being involved in animal rights I have found that this movement has been especially growing through social media due to the amount of sharing you can do to fellow friends.
    It is also now easy to click on for example an Animal Australia’s campaign link that may take you to a campaign page where with a simple click of a button a email has been sent to your Local MP or to another Government office etc…
    I feel this has been more productive as people are less inclined to email these offices off their own backs or sit down and write a letter. However, with a simple link that is on social media and able to send a pre-written letter with ease you would find there would be more activist emails to officials being sent than if Animals Australia did not post on Facebook. (http://animalsaustralia.org/take_action/Ban-Taiji-Dolphin-Hunt)

    Their Facebook has 102K likes and most posts receive over 2000 shares, I feel it is a great tool for them and sharing the image creates consumer awareness.
    However, you are accurate for other campaigns just perhaps animal rights is succeed with the share and like activism.
    http://www.banliveexport.com/take_action/disembarkation-cruelty/ <online petition (saves paper and still is presented to officials)

  6. I agree with you when you say that social media is a good way to produce discussion on issues that are taking place around the world. This is because Facebook and Twitter are just tools, they aren’t what is going to produce real change. People need to be actively present to do this, not sit behind a computer and press like. This article (http://www.theroot.com/views/twitter-turning-us-political-punks), I thought was really interesting in talking about Twitter and Facebook not being substitutes for actual activism.

  7. Great, someone who completely agrees with me. I laugh every time I see these pop up on Facebook. They remind me of the good old days when chain letters said if you don’t forward the message you’ll die in 10 days or be single for life. Ridiculous. Kony2012 was also a big stunt where millions of people shared, liked and commented on the trending topic however as soon as they were asked to rally at an event or pay $13 for a plastic bracelet they stopped participating. This is where i believe that social media is good in introducing change but not significant in bringing about complete change.

  8. I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said and I think that (in part) it is a symptom of the how individualistic our society is. We put a lot of weight on our own opinions and as a result, we feel like by expressing our opinion we have done something powerful, even if that expression comes in the form of something as inconsequential as a ‘like’. Its not a bad thing, but its not a mighty thing either. Having said that raising awareness is always the first step for causes and nothing is better for that that social media. It’s still a little infuriating though when people post things that act as if a like could change the world, but is actually closer to just patting yourself on the back for “caring”.

  9. I agree with you that social media is only a tool to get information and awareness of issues across. To “like” a post or “go” to an event to show support is very easy but people who will actually take action are rare. I also think the nonsense such as 1 like = 1 respect or you will die in 10 days if you don’t share is sort of the reason why people don’t really care about what they see in the internet (see more on http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Nonsense_Facebook_Status/), because these things are not directly related to ourselves. As you said most people will only be a slactivist, if people really want to make change they better sort something out instead of depending on social media or make people think the issue is actually related to them, you know, when you have a conversation with someone you tend to talk about your own story because that is more directly related to you (it is an ecard I can’t find it!).

  10. As a general rule, if a Facebook page asks me to ‘like’ for respect/love/rainbows, I perform a cleansing whereby they are removed from my feed. Though you don’t name it, the concept of ‘caring’ by clicking buttons is widely known as ‘slacktivism’. This movement is frequently disregarded as being able to make any kind of a difference. (In the case of Facebook photos, though, I agree).
    This article by Katya Andresen (http://mashable.com/2011/10/24/slactivism-cause-engagement/) presents some interesting findings: that those who engage in promotional social activity are twice as likely to volunteer their time, three times as likely to solicit donations and more than four times as likely to encourage others to take action on behalf of the cause. (At the end of the article, there’s even a history of social activism- exciting stuff.)
    If you want to make your blog posts stronger, I would suggest including quotes/references from the material you allude to. Your arguments are valid and would benefit from evidence of supporting articles.

  11. I completely agree with you, I strongly dislike the images on social networking sites such as Facebook that attempt to make me feel guilty if I don’t like or share a certain post and/or image to all my friends list. I especially dislike the ones that pretty much threaten that a family member or loved one will die, or my own life will end painfully and tragically and the statuses and images that guarantee me a life of sadness and loneliness if I don’t copy and past to my news feed in 2.5seconds. With all the sadness and suffering that is going on around the world it would be nice to believe that a simple like of a status could magically help someone across that the other side of the world, but sadly this is not how things work.

  12. Although I agree that change cannot be caused by a click or a like, and that although many people may say that they have an intention to attend a protest, or will donate to a cause, this communication does not mean that they will convert their talk into action (http://thetartan.org/2013/4/1/forum/slactivism). However, I don’t agree with the idea that the only kind of change is physical, or that the only kind of change that we need should be seen in changing laws, or raising money. To simply change a conversation, or a mind, is very valuable; for example, to use the power of communication to make a conversation more positive and accepting e.g. in relation to asylum seekers/refugees, or homosexuals and marriage, is to use social media to enact a noticeable and very much effective change.

  13. I think it depends on the cause or page to be honest, and on the person managing it. If it is a page which posts pictures of starving children which says 1 like = 1 hug, it’s a bit useless. However, if it’s a community driven page which frequently organises and encourages people to help and participate in causes, then I think you’ll find Social Media is a strength. If you utilise the medium appropriately, the medium will serve your purpose.

    One example is the Australian Catholic, an international aid foundation which through it’s facebook page, demonstrates the poor conditions of people around the world, but then also demonstrates the wonderful work the teams have achieved in helping people around the world, and allows you to donate. https://www.facebook.com/IAmCaritas
    Furthemore, the page is allowing voices to be heard, as demonstrated in the post of a moving youtube trailer for a documentary which allows the voices of women to be heard as they describe vividly the reality of war.

  14. I think there’s different levels of “clicktivism” that occur on the internet. You’ve got the s#$t like “1 like=1 respect”, which is obviously been created by someone with the mind of a kindergartener, and then there’s more professional ones, whereby maybe you sign a petition, or share a cause, so things you see on advocacy organisations like amnesty or international. And so it makes me wonder if by just signing the petition, or maybe donating $20, am I still a “clicktivist”? Or have I done something worthwhile? Because when I sign a petition, all I’ve done is sat at my computer and sent in my name. How much can that really change something? Success stories (e.g: http://www.amnesty.org.au/success/) can feel few and far between, but right now, being a clicktivist is sometimes the only avenue we have, if we are so far removed from something that concerns us.

  15. Social media spreads the word so that other can know what is happening behind closed borders. Hackivists are watchdogs that find the feed which opens the door to those closed borders.

  16. Clicking ‘like’ or ‘share’ is a copout when it comes to doing something good. People feel like they’ve done something, achieved something without actually have to do anything at all. Look at Kony 2012 (I know, I know) six days after it was uploaded into YouTube it had over 100 million views and yet as far as we know Kony is still alive and free. I’m not saying that social media doesn’t help in bring awareness to serious issues, especially when these issues are not directly affecting us, but it takes a whole lot more than liking or sharing something to make a real difference.

  17. I agree with you and the reflection that you have written in your post that liking or sharing something on facebook will not accomplish anything. I’ve always seen the typical “1 like=1 respect or like this and save a child” all through my news feed on facebook and it gets very annoying. Social media has become such a huge platform for hackivists to create bizarre ways for people to click on things and become engaged in new scenarios. I agree with the concept that you wrote in that social media place images or sayings that aim to give a cause and an action.

  18. Interesting title and catchy! Its also interesting how Evgeny Morozov mentions that these tools that activist posts bring awareness but not action. I always wondered the outcomes of one of these posts and see how helped or if they helped at all.

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