With the number of Internet based pressure groups on the increase, have we created a generation of stay at home protestors? Or has the Internet given us a wider platform to speak out about important issues?
The tides are changing. The freedom of the Internet and boom in social media has arguably created a very different form of activism. Protests popping up all over the world are organized effectively with the likes of Facebook or Twitter and if someone decides they don’t like something, it only takes a few clicks to tell the world.
In the last few years there has been a surge in internet-based, non-profit campaigning organisations. MoveOn is the liberal American group founded in 1998 and with 5 million members, it has been pretty successful.
Our UK counterpart would look something like 38 degrees, with over 1 million members, this non-profit campaign group covers a huge span of issues from climate change to political reform.
Becky Jarvis, project manager for the group says: “We are a campaigning community. We work together in the UK for a number of important issues, they’re important because they’re chosen by our members.”
Campaigning groups like this allow members to sign online petitions, email MPs and engage in various acts of supposed ‘clicktivism’.
But does this instant-activism create apathy for in-person protest?
“Members of 38 degrees are working all the time to stand up for the issues that they care about, even if that sometimes means only signing a petition.” Becky says. “You should never underestimate the click of a button, the feeling of participating in something is a really valuable one and really does make a difference.”
Matthew Jongbloet, a website designer from Canterbury, is setting up his own website to “provoke thought about the world we live in.” With books and a sticker campaign to match, he says: “The website is based around what we CAN to do to make the world better. The more people think, come together and share ideas, the more possible a better future could be.”
Internet Blogger Sophie O’Connor says: “Before the internet came along, it appears to me that it was difficult to campaign on an issue unless you were a member of a party/trade union/other pressure group. People weren’t being lazy back in the days of yonder – they just didn’t have a political outlet through which they could articulate their views.”
So should we attack forms of ‘slacktivism’ or pride ourselves on utilising our limitless media access to support our ideals? The Internet can be confidence, strength, empowerment and even if you do just press “like”, that’s more than some of us could have done 20 years ago.
Famous Social Media Campaigns
Activism or Slacktivism?
The Arab Spring
The revolutionary wave of protests that saw dictator overthrowings and uprisings all over the Arab Word since 17th December 2010
Huge revolution that will go down in history and is still active today.
The Twitter Revolution
Moldova’s civil unrest 7th April 2009 in response to fraudulent elections and rejection of the communist party… who are back in power
Huge movement of the people that effectively saw the opposition increase, just not quite enough.
The London Riots (and clean up)
Between 6th and 10th August 2011, the capital saw chaotic rioting with rioters using their blackberries to organize. It was Twitter and Facebook that helped mobilise hundreds of people for the clean up…
Active doesn’t necessarily mean positive. There certainly was a lot of movement.
The Kony Campaign
The short film released on 5th March 2012 promotes the ‘Stop Kony’ charity who want to bring Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony to justice.
Publicity stunt hype that has already been forgotton.
38 degree’s Save The NHS
A campaign against Andrew Lansleys health bill and his proposed changes
The activists were there, and they worked really hard, but mostly people just signed a petition and the health bill went through anyway…