If you know me, dear reader, you’d know I’ve got an opinion about pretty much everything and I love the chance to voice that opinion. Take this, cyber activism.
First, to answer the question of the lecture, I do not prescribe to any social/political cause group on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. The closest that I come to anything similar is a couple of different mailing lists from social cause groups and political parties, but this is mainly for the sake of keeping informed about the different opinions and policies offered by these groups.
I should be honest, though, I don’t have a Facebook or Tumblr. I had one once but it slowly drove me crazy, in no small part due to the political and social and those that follow or endorse them on social media. I would be confronted on the odd occasion that I logged onto my computer by someone I knew touting a party or movement they had no idea about. People felt they had to prescribe to a movement simply because it was becoming popular and, through this almost self imposed peer pressure, groups would snowball into a seething mass of, what at least would appear to be support. What originates simply as a passing thought and a hit of the ‘like’ button manifests en mass and appears as a great swell of public opinion when, in reality, that opinion is apathy and the great swell is 30 seconds of reading and liking occurring between a bad meme and a quiz to find out which Game of Thrones character you would be (apparently I’d be Tywin Lannister).
The often referenced example of this is the Kony campaign. An ill-planned and researched (if we are to believe it was not merely designed for fiscal gain) movement propagated on social media that appeared well supported but ultimately, though the lack of research and commitment from its organisers and it’s supposed supporters, became nothing more than an embarrassment for those that originally endorsed it. That said, the Arab Spring exemplified the potential for social media in politics and I can hardly ignore that. Suggestible is that the two cases differ because Kony 2012 attempted to bring change, in a large part, through movements on social media. During the various movements of the latter example, social media was simply used to coordinate, organise and spread ideology for a physical revolution (Meuleman, Boushel 2013).
I think that’s just about all the rant I can fit in this word count.
- Harding, L. 2012, “Kony 2012 in review”, Journal of Human Rights Practice, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 461-462.
- Meuleman, B. & Boushel, C. 2014, “Hashtags, ruling relations and the everyday: institutional ethnography insights on social movements”, Contemporary Social Science, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 49-62