Does 'Slacktivism' help change the world? Part Two

by Developed Africa 28. August 2013 09:00


Despite the negative connotations and lack of large scale action, slacktivism might still be a force for good in the world.

To completely dismiss online activism is perhaps not the best idea, yes it might go against the beliefs of the die-hard, old-school activists, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that it does actually make quite a lot of difference in the world.

Firstly, the argument that nothing can be properly mobilised offline from the online is possibly nonsense. The Arab Spring movements were organised online through social media, and it is evident that they made quite a bit of difference in the world. As a study from the University of Washington has shown,

conversations about revolution often preceded major events, and social media has carried inspiring stories of protest across international borders"

This is a fairly extreme example of how social media can actually make a difference in the outside world, but it is important to note its impact on a smaller scale too. For instance, the argument from UNICEF that 'liking' their page does not help them buy things to save children's lives, this is not really the way in which social media is supposed to be utilised in terms of campaigns. Social media's impact is that of spreading the word and bringing important causes to people's attention. On top of this, just because someone has liked UNICEF's page, or any other charities page does not mean they have not made any other actions, it is just another means of being able to show their support and in turn, bring it to the attention of others.

Charity concerts are also often bundled into the same conversation as 'slacktivism' as not really having a lasting impact on people, for instance this article in the Telegraph from 2005 argued that it was only a short-term solution that made no real difference. But we surely cannot be persuaded that it made no long term difference? The past 28 years since the Live Aid concert have seen a massive increase in not only a government focus on development, but also a persistent interest from the general public that just did not exist as it had done before. 

The use of twitter and blogging are actually a very efficient way of sharing ideas, spreading causes, and making change happen. Without blogs and tweets that promote the coverage of certain atrocities or events, they might not be highlighted in the mainstream media and go unnoticed. 

Developed Africa itself uses both twitter and blogging to keep people and its followers up to date with the goings-on in Africa, innovations, events, and economic updates. Re-tweeting or spreading the news of events and causes is not doing nothing, it is alerting others to the cause. 


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