Why not exclusion in social media

by Therese Sjödin on October 21, 2013

in Activism,Social Movements

I want to share this interesting clip of Evgeny Morozov with you, connecting to what I have been discussing here regarding exclusion and expertise in social media for development as well as the debate on “slacktivism” brought up by Peppi.

What is especially relevant for this discussion is that Morozov argues that privileging expertise in ICT4D have a lot of values. This is due to precisely slacktivism and the argument that there is a need for harder work in activism. He brings up the example of Kony 2012, which we have discussed in this course as well, with the argument that this campaign showed how important it is to trust and listen to people who actually knows something. With this he is referring to the fact that the Kony campaign has been widely criticized, including on being counterproductive. This adds an interesting perspective to the debate on the democratic features of social media applications and how new media and ICTs are being used in processes of social change and the problems connected to it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marina Dziubuk October 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Therese Sjödin has raised an interesting point in regards to slacktivism versus expert knowledge value in social media. Social media related activism and building of a democratic society would certainly benefit from some structure as well as intelligent design/planning initiated by people with deep knowledge of history, politics as well as socio-economic environment. A presence of these great minds would add a sense of direction in social media activism events as well as credibility and most probably efficiency as an outcome. Expert knowledge brings about power and hope to build a more democratic society instead of creation of arena of chaos as it seems at times. The constant question is whether “masses” or mass voices care deeply enough to make time and efforts and find out more about the activism cases they find themselves immersed in. It is only convenient and easy to save the world with a power of one click. It makes one feel good, useful and active. However, being active in a digital world is not always or not necessarily projected into physical reality.


Therese Sjödin October 22, 2013 at 9:03 am

I think you are pinpointing a very important aspects here Marina and that is credibility. The credibility that someone seen as a professional brings with him/her to a discussion seems to be highly valued from the research in for example Manning’s article (“FollowMe.IntDev.Com” 2012). Because I can also feel that it is dangerous to just accept someone’s “title” as an expert without critically reflecting upon it.

In addition when you mention slacktivism, I totally agree with your reflection that it is abit dangerous when it is enough with a click to make you feel you have done something good. I also want to turn the argument around since it is important to not just see this “armchair advocacy” as useless because as Shirky points out (in “The political power of the social media” 2010): “the fact that barely committed actors cannot click their way to a better world does not mean that committed actors cannot use social media effectively” (p.6).

So I think balance and a critical mindset is very important, between valuing experts and dismissing the people.


Peppi-Emilia Airike October 31, 2013 at 3:21 am

Marina pointed out that being active in social media and supporting different causes makes a person ‘feel good’. This is what I have discussed in the blog post “Please like and share, and save the world! Slacktivism – what is it?”. And further, Marina wrote that being active in digital world is not always projected into physical reality. That is true in my opinion too. This is however something that for example Lievrouw (2011) discusses. He argues that the new media does not just deliver content but makes people to be ‘users’ and also make them actively to do something, such as searching, sharing and commenting on different topics. These verbs are actions by definitions and they might very well encourage new media users further to be more active and involved in both offline and online worlds. The author also recognizes that it is indeed a shorter step from ‘using’ to participation and action, than from ‘reception’ (that is connected to ‘old media’) to participation and action (Lievrouw, 2011).


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