Still wrapping my head around Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker piece on Twitter, Facebook and social activism. In the meantime, Linda Raftree’s response — “Activism vs slacktivism: it’s about context not tools” — offers some good bits to chew on:
US-based ‘activism’ campaigns are often more about cause marketing or branding an organization or collecting emails than they are about changing a serious social issue at home or abroad. This is not the fault of the social media tools or of ‘digital activism’, it’s a reflection of US culture, our current values, the organizers behind the causes, and the sociopolitical moment we are living in.
I think there is a risk of a US-centric critique of all digital activism as ‘slactivism’, when that is not always the case. Should we call out the US media and those people who are hyping up social media as the key factor in social and opposition movements such as recent ones in Iran or Moldova? Yes. Should we in the US take a closer look at and question what’s behind our shallowness and cultural propensity towards ‘slactivism?’ Definitely.
But we should also be careful about projecting our weaknesses and cultural frameworks on all use of social media tools in activism.