Activism 2.0

The use of social network sites is growing at an exponential rate. However, the growth that is occurring cannot merely be perceived on a subscription level. The increasing functionality of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is leveraging growth in the ways which society use social media. This increasing functionality is in effect, developing a foundation upon which future possibilities of the internet and the philosophies which extend from it are created.

I agree with Maria Popova’s (2010) statement in that the hierarchies which exist within the social web of the internet, are particularly useful in promoting an understanding of causes. While awareness is certainly not a sufficient condition for activism, it is a necessary one, and the social network platforms available in modern times offer a place in which to draw attention to an issue and convey the messages to a far wider audience than ever before.

In reflecting on the use of social media in the Arab Spring in the article by Morozov (2011), it is of my perception that social media was employed as a tool to assist the movement, however it was not the reasoning behind it. The use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter during this time were essentially an effective aid to help carry the notion of engagement with political institutions and reforms. However, activism, whether online or offline requires reasoning and passion and desired for change by those involved. These three motives are what drive a reform and a revolution. From a marketing perspective, it could be seen that social media is the execution or strategy which is used to reach an objective. This is not to say that the role of social media in such movements is not valued. In fact, my view is quite the contrary. As our society becomes ever increasingly saturated in technology, the ways of life, including standing up for what you believe in are consequently becoming more prevalent online.

Social media is the tool which carries the voice. It is the users which create the message.

Reference:

Morozov, E. (2011) ‘ Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’ The Guardian, 7 March. [URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber- utopians].

Popova, M. (2010) ‘Malcolm Gladwell Is #Wrong’ Change Observer, 10 June. [URL: http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/feature/malcolm-gladwell-is-wrong/19008/].

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10 thoughts on “Activism 2.0

  1. You’re right in saying that social media is not the cause for activism, but merely a platform for it.
    Yet the popularity of social media now plays an important role in activism and how it reaches a larger audiences. For example (though it may be stereotypical) is the Kony Campaign. My father who usually never keeps up to date with technology or campaigns even heard about this one via Facebook as he manages to check that at least once a day.
    The example of the Arab Spring and you reflection is how I view it as well, the people involved already had the drive for it but were merely expressing it through social media platforms.

  2. Your point that social media was a platform in the movement, although it was not the reasoning behind it, is a significant point, which readers should keep in mind, when reading stories about this issue. A social media site cannot conceive this type of movement, although it plays a large role in fuelling it! Very similar to that of the Cronulla Riots in 2005, social media was not a norm of everyday life, although mobile devices were used in order to fuel this movement. Even more so today, most people take the value of Facebook quiet personally and use it as a form for resilience to dictate their opinion to reach a large audience of people and in turn, responses like this are the result.

  3. You make a point about social media being the tool which carries the voice, but it is the users which create the message. Social networking in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Arab culture has boomed. In a suppressible society where the politics is skewed and torn, social networking has given the people a voice. What it achieves is the power for the people of these areas to band together online and talk about political movements, discuss topics usually discussed in a democratic society without fear, or actually with an element of fear, of been persecuted. However, this fear is still very real, the Internet is a hard thing to control and this frightens governments. Henceforth the persecution of political activists like Julian Assange by the government is no new reality.

  4. Great concluding comment Nikki! I had a similar idea behind my post this week. I think the role of social media in these revolutions could be getting quite confused – it isn’t the cause of these movements, but is, instead, a tool for creating awareness, voicing one’s opinions and sharing personal experience and stories. Social media is a perfect source for conjuring up support as it’s so easily accesible and readily available. Quite often I am complaining of missing out on an important event because it wasn’t ‘on Facebook’ – this applies to the most mundane things such as a catch up coffee, to events of larger scales such as protests. I can honestly say that something advertised and shared on Facebook is far more likely to engage my attention than something featured on, say, the daily news. It may seem unfortunate, but Facebook has become my greatest point of contact and engagement.

  5. Nikki, I really agree with what you’re saying about social media being merely a platform from which activism can develop and is not the cause of it. I also agree with what you’re saying about Popova in that social media promotes awareness of causes. From my own experience I have noticed how Facebook does this and have lost count of how may different ’causes’ have been posted to my Wall. I am of the opinion that it takes more than simply ‘liking’ a cause or page on Facebook to achieve anything, but it is no doubt a start and a step in the right direction. I really engaged in the last point you make about how technology is changing the way in which we do things- including standing up for what you believe in. It will only be a matter of time before the number of people on the street corner will decline again. This just goes to show the reach and scope of technology.

  6. I agree with you and the other commenters. Social media was definitely a tool that contributed to the uprisings during the Arab Spring, but I don’t believe there is direct causation. Uprisings have occurred without social media in the past; I think what has changed is the way that these revolutions have played out. Citizens now have the ability to communicate with each other instantaneously, uploading content including videos regardless of this location. So whilst social media may not have caused the uprisings, I definitely think it accelerated them.

  7. It’s true that social media is the tool and without the desire for change from the individual we wouldn’t have seen the change that we have. Sites such as Facebook or Twitter should not be praised for their ‘role’ in the revolutions of Egypt, Libya, Iran etc, but definitely recognised for the attributes that they brought to the field.

    I do tend to think that some give far too much praise to these tools, and also I see that some do not understand the significance of these tools. Social media should not be praised but at least it should be acknowledged that they made instantaneous, global, first hand communication, possible.

    I completely agree with the argument of some that without these social media tools, revolutionaries would have found other ways to communicate and share. However I feel that they would not have been able to do so at the same level.

  8. Like the seven posts above me I like your idea as social media not been the cause but been the platform for these revolutions. I agree with this completely but i think it is also important, adding on from this idea, to give credit to the unique the ability of this platform to give these people a voice. No other platform has given the oppressed a voice with such ease and reach as we have seen social media do. The open nature of the platform makes it so much easier and safer for people to speak out. According to newsandsentinel.com “There was a time not so long ago if the people of an oppressed county somewhere wanted to invoke a change, they would storm the nearest radio station and take control of the broadcast. Now all they have to do is pick up their smart phone and log into Facebook and Twitter” (read more http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/blogs.detail/display/819/Social-networks-give-the-oppressed-a-voice.html). I think it is important to acknowledge that social media has given these people a voice that other platforms would not have.

  9. I like everyone else who has commented agree 100% with your point. There are a lot of people out there who believe that the Arab Springs revolution only came about due to social media, however the fact is that with or without social media, this uprising would have occurred purely because the people’s determination for change. The citizen’s are the driving force behind the revolution, social media is just a tool that facilitated them to speed up the process. I found this paper which ties in with your blog as it talks about the power of the power creating change rather than social media….its a great read!! http://www.academia.edu/1882550/A_Revolution_in_140_Characters_or_80_Million_People

  10. I agree with your point in relation to social media sites are not being used anymore to solely socialize with friends and family. They are becoming platforms for information that can be shared across the globe within seconds. I also discussed that social networks are merely a tool for such movements, not the cause. To be honest, before this week I thought many of the citizen journalists created these movements and assisted them. Although a naïve thought, I can see how other people think this way as well. Citizen journalists are seen as revolutionaries within society, when they are just the people who present information from their findings. Social media assist these findings to be presented across the globe.

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