Clicktivism has become a powerful tools for activism, its influence in raising awareness of issues on social media is uncanny, but are they really doing any good, is liking or sharing a page really doing anything productive? The 2014 survey conducted by Search Engine Journal found that 72% of all internet users are now active on social media, 18-29 year olds were the most active with 89% usage. (Ballas, 2014)
The study found that social media is where users turn to be informed about the current events and thus promotes a sense of community, a more desirable social style of civic participation. The signifying practice of ‘participatory politics’ Strauss says “has pull, a cultural capital, a current political currency capable of bringing them in through using a media a working class kids has access to” (2011, p.2). While most news stories suggest that young people are “utterly depoliticised, self absorbed and incapable of engaging in collective politics”(Strauss, 2011, p.1) Emily Hunter suggest otherwise, stating that the ‘doom generation’ is involved in volunteering more than 2.4 billion hours a year.
She does however note that Gen Y is not participating to the best of their capabilities seeing that ‘Gen Y is the largest generation on the earth, and those under 30 make up half of the earth’s population’; this generation now stands at a cross road, it can continue to use traditional activism methods or change the way the world or it can revolutionize the way youth interact with politics (Hunter 2013). Philip Shabecoff states that if “environmentalism is to be an agent of necessary social transformation, it will have to transform itself” (quoted in Hunter, 2013); and one movement who has successfully done this is the 350 movement, their focus, climate change through their effective ‘spreadability and drillibility’ (Jenkins, 2012, p. 3).
Their online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries; their mission is to “preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm which is the safe level”. Founded by a group of university friends in the US and global warming author Bill McKibben in 2008, a hot time for climate change debate, since then they have been hosting activities that linked activists and organizations around the world, including the International Day of Climate Action in 2009, the Global Work Party in 2010, Moving Planet in 2011, and Climate Impacts Day in 2012. The movement does it all , from fighting coal power plants in India , to stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S.
The main point people need to remember is that making a change is more than just liking a page or sharing it to your friends, social media can be a great tool to create awareness and create interest but if no action follows then the activism is only full of hot air.
2014, ‘What we do’, 350.org, accessed 10/05/2014, http://350.org/about/what-we-do/
Ballas, J 2014, “22 Social Media Facts and Statistics You Should Know in 2014”, Jeff Ballas, accessed 8/05/2014, http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/
Hunter, E 2013, Activism 2.0 – Rebirth of the Environmental Movement, posted 11/02/2013, Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsB2qtDaiRw
Jenkins, H 2012, ‘The New Political Commons’,Options Politiques, File
Strauss, J 2011, ‘Youth Movement in a Culture of Hopelessness, Aljazeera.com