When I last wrote about online social revolutions or the subsequent phenomena of clictivism, I reflected on the KONY 2012 propaganda-esque type political cause. I think the mentality of participatory culture is always, ‘what can I do?’ or ‘How can I involve myself?’
But why? Why are we like this? Is it another bi-product of the attention economy model? – The whole “I can be heard, so I will be heard” attitude. Or is the participation addictive, is it FOMO?
Something associated with causes gaining awareness/monetary support online, is the uptake of clictivism. Or hashtag activism. Each of these terms denotes some form of activity, or engagement and there in lies its appeal; the phenomena wouldn’t keep popping up if it didn’t have some sense of appeal. The real debate here rests in figuring out whether or not it’s promoting the right ideals in supporting a cause or just making us lazy and apathetic. If you look at this info graph that weighs up the ratio of where we donate vs. diseases that are most likely to us it colourfully outlines that we’re doing it wrong.
The role of social media in generating awareness/action:
mobilisation – act of marshaling and organizing and making ready for use or action; “mobilization of the country’s economic resources”.
coordination – the state of being coordinate; harmonious adjustment or interaction.
disseminate – to spread abroad; promulgate:
Whilst someone can ‘technically’ tick all three boxes by simply sharing a tweet that maybe ends in a trending hashtag, it doesn’t mean that it’s an effective way to generate awareness. I believe awareness comes through education & understanding. Causes like Kony or ALS Ice Bucket Challenge have an aggressive and quick building nature because of the clicktivism aspect, but very few people participating actually have more than a rudimentary understanding of the many avenues available in which to help that cause so therefore opt out for the easy one. Eventually these causes become best known for their virality, and very rarely for their success.
Any only campaign will fail without cross-promotion from other media platforms. The holy trio of cross-promotion would be Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
‘We use Facebook to schedule protests, Twitter to coordinate, and Youtube to tell the world’ – Anonymous Cairo protester. This statement came in relation to the call for political reform in Egypt – calls for mass demonstrations on January 25th were met with overwhelming support across social media. A Youtube channel was also started by the same Egyptian vlogger, however after weeks of daily protesting president Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
Websites such as this, created by the PBS organisation are a fantastic example of the cross platform engagement is the only way to truly facilitate a conversation and initiate change.