Hope falls flat?

slacktivism

Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, for example signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on social media (Oxford University Press, 2017).

The ultimate measure of success is the outcome. How does online versus offline activism result in social change?

There is scarce but an increasing number of research done on the actual effect of slacktivism or online activism and what possibilities the Internet can have when it comes to recruitment and fundraising. The Internet has provided us with an unprecedented opportunity for information flow (Sparrow, Liu, & Wegner, 2011), social influence (Bond, 2012) and democratic revolution (Allagui & Kuebler, 2011).

A study published in the Sociological Science showed an inverse relationship between broad online social movement mobilization and deep participation (Lewis, Gray, & Meierhenrich, 2014). The data presented results from a period of almost 3 years looking at the Facebook application of Causes with an empirical focus on the conflict in Darfur. The study quoted Donovan and Henley stating Facebook is less useful a mobilizing than a marketing tool, which proved to be the case here as well. Although 1 million people registered for the cause in the aforementioned period, the total amount of donations barely reached $100.000, supporting the notion of “fast growing support and diffusion of protest through the Internet is followed by an even faster decline in commitment” (Laer, 2010). Otherwise socially minded participants have little incentive to contribute because they assume that the millions of other members will (Oliver 1984).

Kony 2012 was published on YouTube 5 years ago and up to this date has been watched more than a 100 million times. Joseph Kony was accused for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court  in The Hague, Netherlands in 2005. He is still on the run.

Another analysis on Twitter also established the fact that even though social media is a powerful communication tool, it is less prevalent as a mobilization tool (Guo & Saxton, 2014)

I think it is fair to say that the initial hope to set off social change combined with the possibilities of the Internet is questionable. Did we have too high expectations to what the online sphere could deliver? What is considered a success when engaging in protest for a particular cause? Raising awareness? Recruiting members to a community? Hard cash? The ultimate measure of success is the outcome… Success in my mind is when the will of the majority is represented in changing the direction of course for a social cause.

 

Sources:

Allagui, I., & Kuebler, J. (2011). The Arab Spring and the Role of ICTs. International Journal of Communication , 1435-1442.

Bond, R. M. (2012). A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization. Nature , 295-298.

Guo, C., & Saxton, G. D. (2014). Tweeting Social Change: How Social Media are Changing Nonprofit Advocacy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly , 57-59.

Laer, J. V. (2010). Activists Online and Offline: The Internet as an Information Channel for Protest Demonstrations. Mobilization: An International Quarterly , Vol. 15, 347-366.

Lewis, K., Gray, K., & Meierhenrich, J. (2014). The Structure of Online Activism. sociological science , 1-9.

Oxford University Press. (2017). Oxford English Dictionary. Forrás: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/slacktivism

Sparrow, B., Liu, J., & Wegner, D. M. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Science , 776-778.

 

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