Social Media Saviours

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unicef anti-clicktivism ad – OneGirl 2013

The convergence of technology has led to ways for young people to become involved with political activism online. But, there is widespread debate as to whether or not this social media activism, known as clicktivism, actually has a powerful impact. Many argue that it “lacks the personal ties of community that once drove social change” (Jenkins 2012). Yet, others encourage young people to create and share to spread a message that they feel is important.

But, how much of difference does online activism actually make? Mass debate can be seen around whether or not it is a positive or negative trend.

Many believe that clicktivism is a valuable process which welcomes involvement and voice, and provides a gateway towards political activities like voting. As a link between popular culture and social causes, clicktivism is thought to influence more people than traditional awareness methods by branching entertainment into politics (Jenkins 2012). One example of positive online activism is the Harry Potter Alliance which uses social media and a popular franchise to successfully assist important issues. In encouragement of clicktivism, several organisations claim that most of their supporters find the organisation through social media.

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statistics of clicktivism: study by Georgetown University – OneGirl 2013

In contrast, many people criticise young people involved in clicktivism as lazy in comparison to the political protesters of the 1960’s. Whilst it is understood clicktivism may raise awareness, many judge that the action stops there. A person may feel like they’ve done their part by ‘liking’ something but they actually haven’t achieved much. An unfortunate example of ineffective clicktivism can be seen through the number of people not undergoing the recommended tests for breast and prostate cancer, despite all the pink ribbons and Movember moustaches seen on social media. For it to be of any significance, a click needs to be “the first step people take towards making a difference and not the last” (Flaim 2013).

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anti-clicktivism ad by Crisis Relief Singapore (CRS) – OneGirl 2013

Although opinions on clicktivism are split twofold, anything that creates broad awareness on an important issue is a good thing in my eyes. Yes, a ‘like’ may be a small gesture, but it is far better than doing nothing, especially if this action spreads awareness or leads to further involvement.

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘We are the 99%: between #ows and clicktivism week 9′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 May 2014.

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