“In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.” Jesse Jackson
What does this quote evoke in you? What does it make you think of? Automatically after reading it myself, the importance of execution was raised. This quote relates to the topic of ‘clicktivism’, as it highlights how it doesn’t matter how many people you have behind a cause, it still needs to be carried out with dedication and strategies for it to be successful.
The current prevalence of social media and Generation Y having such an online presence means political messages are easily shared. However, the online numbers supporting a cause, often does not equate to those that will actually leave their comfort zone and take actual physical action in support.
This is where the problem of ‘clicktivism’ comes into action. The majority of these people will be willing to ‘like’ a page or status on Facebook in support, retweet a political message to spread the word, but that’s about as far it goes. Individuals and groups “use social media to coordinate action across a more dispersed network” (Jenkins, 2012). This ‘action’ decreases significantly when actually executing the protests, rallies and marches. The organisation falls through with the rise of internet ‘slacktivists’ being involved in these campaigns. The question is being raised surrounding whether through advanced technology, the youth having access to a “voice” online, is helpful or a hindrance.
As this technology, such as social media allows for “feel good” measures to be taken in support of a social cause, with little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel some amount of satisfaction. This can detract from any actual action being taken against governments or social justice causes, as the act requires minimal personal effort. It has become the substitute for more substantive action, as people feel as if they are contributing in a way. The perfect example of this is of course the infamous Kony 2012 campaign. The views and shares here were in the millions, however when the night of action came – ‘painting the town red’, the turnout was dismal in comparison.
In an ideal world this rise of online activism would lead to ‘Participatory politics’. Jenkins explains “participatory politics welcomes diverse involvement, enables greater creativity and voice in expressing one’s views, and provides a gateway toward more traditional political activities, such as voting or petitioning.” Unfortunately due to the passive mindset this online movement is creating, it’s not looking like it will head in that direction.
This relates to the trends that social media can create, if it comes up on someone’s Facebook news feed that thirty two of their friends have liked< a page supporting Boat People in Australia, it is quite likely they will also do so, not because they genuinely care about this issue, but to part of the crowd.
Growing up, I myself have been part of multiple protests. I was part of the biggest ‘No’ in the Guinness Book of records for the Say No To Holsworthy campaign, walked against the war in Iraq and rallied with The Whitlams to fight John Howards WorkChoices scheme. All of this was before the days of social media and to spread the awareness of the issue was a much harder feat. Looking back on these the main thing I’ve noticed is how many people were at every single event. This enforces for me that the “feel good” protesting measures social media give, are detracting from activism in this generation as a whole.