Week 6: Digital Activism

Living in the digital era, taking action has suddenly become much easier than ever before, as a result of the uprising of social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. This new medium has enabled us to communicate with more people, faster and further, and is giving us the opportunity to re-invent the world we live in.

‘’Increasing accessibility and the ability to communicate with thousands of citizens quickly has made the internet a tool of choice for individuals or organisations looking to spread a social message far and wide. Independent activists the world over are using the internet and digital tools to build their community, connect with other similar-minded people outside their physical surroundings as well as lobby, raise funds and organise events.”

However, despite reaching thousands and thousands of people, some argue that this form of activism is still not as effective as an offline campaign.
“Generally speaking, clicking like on someone’s Facebook post or retweeting a trending hashtag on Twitter requires less effort and less forethought than signing (or setting up) a petition or joining in a demonstration on the streets.”
For this, digital activism has been condemned, with some questioning whether the online engagement in issues and causes might not be, in fact, too reductive and passive, defining this new era of activism as ‘clicktivism’.

Though I recognize there is truth to these arguments, ‘clicktivism’, in my opinion, can also be quite positive. Indeed, this is a much more passive form of activism but, without the Internet, most people would probably never join any causes anyway. We live in a time where people can be empathetic enough with our cause to click ‘like’ or share a post but, especially if it doesn’t concern them, they won’t care for it as to take any efforts to do more than that. In a world with no digital activism, these people would much likely remain idle; by sharing a post, they can at least spread the message to someone who might want to get involved.

Nevertheless, in order to fight this idea of ‘clicktivism’, some organizations are already trying to encourage people to engage in both the online and offline experience. One of my favourite examples is the Un-Idle Collective, a community of people committed to being idle no more and “(…) to bring activism into their daily lives, through taking one action a week”, aiming for “an active, empowered, creative group of people ready to ‘kick-ass’ and take action on and offline”.

In the world we live in today, it is important to fight for what is right and make our voices heard. So whether you prefer yelling and protesting on the streets, or silently ‘like’, share and sign, do not stop pursuing the values you believe in.

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