The role that social media and digital communities play in aiding activism & protesting has evolved rapidly with the rise of social media culture. Given the sheer enormity of the online world it is impossible not to see the benefits of utilising this medium – which is precisely why it has become the target of many a viral protesters campaign. An early example of this digital activism renaissance can be seen in the infamous Kony 2012 documentary which brought the medium of digital activism to the forefront.
While the digital community is the ideal way to spread a message to a mass audience it would be foolish to think that it can in anyway make a real difference without substantially backing from;
- Accredited not for profit bodies
- Government assistance
- Substantial funding from independent backers
What it can do, however, is create the spark which could ignite any of these three powder kegs into beginning significant action.
Perhaps the biggest downfall of promoting activism in this way is the ‘social justice warrior’. A casual observing, nonchalant member of the digital community (or slacktivist) who feels that by ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ superfluous articles to their friends they are making a difference to society as a whole – when really they are doing nothing more than justifying their own social beliefs to themselves in a thinly veiled attempt to appear up to date on current affairs. This is not to discredit their intentions but the manner in which they are conveyed is often irrational and this can be detrimental to the cause that they are trying to promote. An example of this can be seen in the irony of Anti-Trump supporters protesting, and promoting violence against their opposition, for fear of said opposition acting in the way that they are themselves. An irony which seems to be lost on many of these individuals.
Using the digital community as a means to promote change for activists is a wonderful tool that, when used effectively can encourage change, however this needs to be done thoughtfully and insightfully to avoid damaging the causes in the process.