ECMP 355

Don’t think of the Internet as a broadcast medium…think of it as a conversational space. David Weinberger

Can online activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

Activism can be defined as any action that brings political or social change. Previously offline strategies were common for bringing such type of change but in the modern era of technology online activism is meaningful and worthwhile to cause social and political advancement.

Online social activism involves the use of electronic communication technologies such as email, social networking websites and other new internet technologies.  Some critics argue that online activism allows people who agree with each other and gives them the impersonation of being a part of a larger network. Others warn that the impersonal nature of computer may hurt the human contact which is important for a social activist.

Mora (2014) suggests that the most important point of online activism is its ability to provide channels for relationship building through which information flows. Despite its advantages, some critics don’t like the use of online activism because of the possibility of slacktivism and clicktivism (Rotman2011). Slacktivism undermines and hinders worthwhile activism. A critic from China argues that society and online activism are mutually constitutive. Online activism helps people to know about those issues and problems which are not covered by media. It opens minds of people towards gaining their rights that absolutely brings change in society hence called activism.

This online article was great in highlighting the importance of online activism and I am summarizing a few points as following:

  • Disable and sick people are accessible through online activism. They can express their feelings, views and protest about issues which were not possible in offline activism.
  • Online activism helps to make community despite geographical boundaries. People of different cities or countries come together and share their hardships, sufferings, and sorrows which make them feel loved and validated.
  • Online activism is worthwhile in educating people, especially on social justice issue. Everyone shares his/her own expertise and skills which help to create awareness among people of different categories.
  • Online activism is worthwhile in fundraising, as people of high status are a source of resources for greater good. Fundraising helps needy to fulfill their needs.
  • Online activism is worthwhile for efficient offline activism. Facebook, YouTube, and twitter is a good source of advertisement of different events and draw attention to special issues. Without advertisement efficient offline activism is not possible. UNICEF 2013 campaign is the best example of fundraising which helped in gathering polio vaccine.

Joyce 2011 outlines seven activist roles that can take place online:

  1. Storytelling
  2. Sharing of information
  3. Preparing for action
  4. Creation of information
  5. Interpretation of information
  6. Safety from censorship, and
  7. Fundraising

Photo Credit: cambodia4kidsorg Flickr via Compfight cc

Is it possible to have a productive online conversation about social justice?

A fair relation between individual and society is termed as social justice. Online activism is helpful in getting easier and faster media attention. Special issues such as social justice can be highlighted very easily. Every layman can share his views. There are a lot of different strategies to achieve social justice in society. According to the article Productive online conversation about social justice is possible through social medias like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Some great approaches that are possible through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for an online productive conversation about social justice are described by this article:

  • Celebrating cultural diversity i.e. food and festivals of different areas.
  • Donating money to human rights organizations.
  • Bringing up relations with the low-status public.
  • Fundraising for needy people
  • Establishing reforms that will bring social justice.

There is another important aspect of online conversation about social justice that cannot be ignored. Online social justice activism can be intentionally vicious. This viciousness is between people who have same goals but use different strategies to achieve them. It does not only result in disagreement but they attempt to destroy each other’s credibility. People use violence against each other.  The online world often helps the depersonalization of internet users.

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