Aren’t you perpetually annoyed with people hawking their beliefs and religions and political agendas in your face?
If so, get off social media!
Carty defines social movements as a “sustained collective articulation of resistance to elite opponents by a plurality of actors with a common purpose”. I, like the next person, am somewhat frustrated with social media at time, with people having opposing views to my own, or alternate opinions without the ability to back it up. But these people are not those that you should focus on. The plurality of actors with a common purpose can engage in online political campaigns, when done successfully can warrant applause. From the Arab Spring to #Kony2012 to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (and all of its spin offs), social media is supremely useful. There is however, much scrutiny from those which aren’t as engaged or people who are skeptical of social media. To those people, I say, engage yourself a bit more onto social media, and learn about the history behind it all.
Currently in Vietnam and China, there is mass water pollution happening in their seas and rivers, which is causing millions of deaths of fish each and every year. As the governments have been typically slow at responding, the use of social media has allowed these countries to take action and at least probe into the issues, one fish (or bird) at a time #AFlockalypse #ApocaFish
Despite the humourous hashtags which may or may not have been trending at these particular times, it does not take away the seriousness of the issues at hand.
There are a myriad of social and political changes which can be made through social activism. The most effective version to date was the Arab Spring, which allowed for a wider people to engage in a societal and political changes throughout the Middle East. For more information on this, please see the videos below from Al Jazeera America and TedTalks, on attitudes and social activism:
With the rise of social media and the ever prominence of Social Activism, websites such as change.org have allowed for people to have a real influence and give rise to social issues which governments may or may not be aware of. Such an example is the stopping of a Legal Rape advocate to discuss in Sydney, which after many many petitions on Change.Org stopped the entry of Roosh V and the issues which could arise from his entry.
On some lighter notes, I am involved in a petition which I am a strong advocate, which is adding The Simpsons to the Australian dollar, as seen below. This is not complete but has a strong petition for it. Go Dollarydoos, Go!
Many traditional activist are skeptical of modern methods in activist and criticise those who initiate social change more passively as being #Slacktivists: that is, posting from behind a keyboard, clicking a like, buying a pair of shoes which gives another pair of shoes to the needy, buying water which helps give money to the homeless, and many other prominent issues which people are engaging in as its something that they may believe in without actively marching/endorsing/directly engaging in the issue.
Despite the multitude of campaigns and social action, the notion of doing SOMETHING is usually better than doing nothing. Social activism is not always ideal, but it definitely has significant changes and engagement within society, especially if its through prominence. Perhaps the most influential and prominent social awareness issue which has arisen has been the Occupy Wall Street (OWS), as well as the racial marches and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. Both of these types of movements had dramatic effects on the way it was portrayed in the media; or lack thereof.
Sculio (2012) discusses race and the occupy wall street movement, whereby the notion of race and Occupy Wall Street is one of the least explored facets of the Occupy movements, which since it is so seldom mentioned may be a larger reflection on the undertones of racism that is prominent throughout America, and indeed the globe. The blatant omission of race is problematic in reporting the issues which are vital to the OWS movement; and especially when critiquing capitalism and its central tenets. Sculio argues that ‘racism and capitalism are intimately tied together and mutually reinforcing’…with ‘a new movement that ignores one or the other is worth a closer look’. Sculio also focuses on the Occupy Atlanta movement, which has a higher concentration of African Americans than in many other cities, and in turn has experienced a significant amount of racism more so than other US cities, in which the privileged class and its many advantages severely had undermined the ever-increasing poorer society, which includes many African American areas, and tends to critique capitalism’s excesses and much of America’s turning of a blind eye toward its African American or foreign decent residents. Specifically in the Occupy Atlanta movement, struggled with racial integration, as well as a misrepresentation of African American speakers (and those which specialise in civil rights, such as John Lewis, who is deservedly counted alongside people like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abemathy. Sculio believes that ‘the failure to include Representative Lewis among speakers reeks of a loss of history and the continuation of a racially discriminatory past’.
People see not being a direct activist as gathering a group of people together. Does marching or gaining social influence via direct means down the main street of your city and being a so called ‘activist’ garner more traction than direct activism? Does this online worldwide virtual process of garnering attention to issues which you (and other individuals) are passionate about online create less awareness into the issue than direct methods?? That is the real question.
Carty, V. 2011, Wired and mobilizing : social movements, new technology, and electoral politics, New York : Routledge, 2011.
Sciullo, N. J. 2012, ‘SOCIAL JUSTICE IN TURBULENT TIMES: CRITICAL RACE THEORY & OCCUPY WALL STREET’, National Lawyers Guild Review, vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 225-238.