Clicktivism and How You Broke the Mold

EDIT: I am getting the strong impression that the few people who already commented are not understanding where I am coming from. I am not in support of clicktivism but rather instead taking a more active stance using the internet instead of just clicking a button or sharing a story or research you did not do yourself.

Well, it has been nearly two weeks since my last topic, a very satisfying rant, and about high time I created another.

Like always there are problems in the world and the internet has done wonders to spread information and allow for opposition to certain problems to manifest and gain traction. However on the flip side I have seen a lot of criticism stating that this have generated a culture of slacktivism in that the internet has made us lazy given the relative ease of simply clicking on petitions or using social media to spread news articles without actually doing anything ourselves.

This has really got me thinking and as a result has left several petitions in my Inbox to go stale as I ponder if simply signing that petition would have any impact. Over the last few weeks everything from Sumofus.org to Avazz, Leadnow to Open Media have had not just petitions but requests to write personally created letters to people in power. I forced my introverted self to risk criticism, character assassination, and goofing my messages by going through and creating multi-paragraph long letters in these campaigns, supplemented by my personal opinion and awareness of the facts.

Today however Open Media brought something new to my eyes, a form that would allow me to write out a multi-paragraph newspaper article and using my postal code identify local newspapers they could send it to. The topic being the homogeneity of Canada's telecommunication sector and Rogers bid to acquire certain resources that would stifle competition. I cannot tell you how intimidating this felt but I forced myself to go through with it and actually spend time writing something that I felt would be worthy for the public at large to read.

Having as far as I know to have broken the mold of slacktivism and feeling really good about it I am genuinely curious as to if anyone else has done such a thing. Done more than just click a button to add your name to a petition in order to try and make a change?

I'm 30 years old and back in my day we used the internet to organize, get in a car, and drive several hours. I have been tear gassed twice. Shot at with rubber bullets. Marched through a line of horse mounted police. (you try being in front of a column of thousands of people and watch 2000 pound animals bucking and kicking and KEEP WALKING) Some people tried to stop but got trampled. Other people got hit by the horse and it knocked 50 people down like dominoes, like bad CGI from world war Z. Literally looked like that. This other time, I saw them drag this kid away for keeping a beat to crowd chants with a plastic bucket as a drum. They dragged him off behind a line of police. I was down on the ground so I saw him, through a wall of black jackboots like columns in front of a monument, and there was a jackboot on his head, and billy clubs at his back, and as he screamed- another cop sprayed mace right down his fucking throat, and his screams turned to gargles.

It was the year 2000, it was about the future, and beating the globalists.

Newsflash, globalists won. Obama is a puppet.

Anyway, this is President Bush's 2001 Jan inauguration. You can see the white structure in upper left says "District of Columbia" for DC officials to watch the "parade." Some parade, he drove by in the limo you see there with those poor secret service agents in the trench coats nearly SPRINTING to keep up. Everyone was booing and giving the finger.

The guys in the tan coats w/ black hats are honor guard, and you can see them saluting as the limo approaches.

So yes, that's me taking the picture, and that's bush in the limo.

He was like 4-6 hours LATE on his own inauguration parade because of all the protestors. Bush didn't want to come out. When he finally came out he blew past the protestors to an arranged photo-op further down the road and that's what you saw on the TV that night.

When 9/11 happened, I had all sorts of anti-bush slogans all over my car. One said: Beat Back the Bush Attack! (on civil liberties) and some redneck here in Michigan tried to run me off an expressway for two miles, screaming and cutting in front and shaking his fist, until I finally took an off ramp by going over the median at the last second to get away from him.

9/11- my 65 year old neighbor came over shaking because she though the Russians were finally attacking us and I had to remind her that the cold war was over, that these are global terrorists like Osama bin Laden- he wasn't unheard of to anyone who wasn't IGNORANT before then... and wouldn't you know it, two days later- in rubble in which most objects were turned to atoms, they found the hijackers passports...

And about 12 years passed since then and it basically feels like I have been living in BIZZARRO WORLD for the past 12 years. Forget about globalists enslaving you and puppet politicians taking your rights away, that's crazy alex jones talk.

Instead, you're spot on, they're all clicktivists today, getting on trendy causes like Koni that's forgotten before the year is over.

Meanwhile, I still remember every fucked up thing from 2001 and nobody talks about it anymore. Nobody talks about why we invaded Iraq, some people in the media have come forward saying that they were ashamed for their role in selling the war.

I could ramble on forever so I'm just gonna stop unless there are questions, which there usually are not.

my family (including myself) basically ran the anti section 28 campaign in Scotland opposed to brian souters and his private referendum plans and we started and ran a campaign to buy our local Women's Aid group a private house to use as a refuge when one of our local councillors (who was in charge of the housing department) shut down all the Women's Aid refuges because his wife, who he had beaten, took refuge in one (Women's Aid refuges are normally council houses).

partly as a result of that (and the "fame" of a few of my family members) as a family we are quite "plugged in" to a lot of circles. i could quite easily visit my mums and find a local MP or MSP or a "famous" media or literary personality sitting on the couch just chatting away to my mum.

i've also attended various picket lines and marches in support of various causes and i'll be attending one against the "bedroom tax" in Scotland shortly (with my mum and some friends in tow).

this kind of thing tends to be very much a family thing with us (i'm one of 6 brothers) with me mum as the matriarch.
we function as a group and our opinions, while internally under discussion, are collectively presented if they are asked for.
because we have been able to affect the national debate in Scotland previously they are occasionally sought out on other issues.

certain people, if confronted with certain issues may seek out our opinion.
we are "known" to some.
that's as best as i can put it.

my mum also occasionally sits on a few committees in the Scottish parliament by invitation.

i'm toying with the idea of joining the yes campaign for Scottish independence but i dunno if im up to over the long term as i'm quite ill.

any reference to "fame" is in inverted commas because Scotland and even Britain is a small pond and such a thing depends from where you are viewing from and isn't constant. suffice to say my mums work (as a writer) is part of courses in schools and higher eduction and my brother has played major characters in Scottish and UK TV series. we also count a computer scientist (handy if you want a page thrown up) and a part time writer for the Scottish broadsheets amongst out number.

and no we're not rich or some kind of "elite". we came from abject poverty and we are barely clinging to the middle (only the computer scientist makes any decent money tbth). the fact we managed to politically beat someone like souter (who owns Stagecoach) with basically nothing is part of why it raised a few eyebrows within the certain circles who knew who we were...

i guess i have a dim view of "clicktivists".

you can "change the world".

i say that as someone who can honestly say "we changed the law" (and thus the immediate world around us) in the face of substantial and far, far richer opposition.

you can even change some of it "sitting in the house".

but it takes a little more effort than clicking a petition or joining a facebook page.

so ye...take to the streets...start a pressure group if you care about something...and actually do shit.

in some countries it seems to me its more than overdue atm...

I refuse to be a part of that nonsense.

If I'm going to do anything on the net, it would be the exact thing I'd do in person if I'm given the chance. Talking to people, discussing ideas, trying to change minds. A lot of the time it's utterly futile, especially online where there's no human connection, but fuck me if I won't try.

A little sidebar. Remember a while back at the Occupy rallies? There were a few girls penned off from the rest who ended up getting pepper sprayed for no cocking reason. My cousins girlfriend was one of them, the redhead with the black bandanna in her hair. Did what I could for her, offered legal advice... and that she should just walk out of the courtroom laughing if resisting arrest was the only charge, which it was. It was thrown out eventually because it was blatantly a false arrest. Gotta love the ubiquity of personal cameras these days.

I'm careful about what I sign - if I don't know enough about a topic, then I generally won't put my voice behind it in the form of a petition. That said I'll generally sign most petitions I'm alerted to about digital legislation, and stuff I feel strongly about.

I wouldn't go to a protest partly due to the risks of brutality, but mostly because I don't think it's an effective use of my time. Unless it was a massive protest to stop the erosion of civil liberties or a genocide in the UK (both of which seem quite unlikely at present) then I doubt it will have much effect.

I agree that the simplicity of clicking on something might instigate an intellectual and political laziness but it does allow something to be brought to the attention of those in charge. Even if a petition doesn't cause a change in the world of a 24 hour news cycle a million votes in one day petition becomes a powerful weapon for forcing politicians to speak out on a topic that they would rather avoid. No it doesn't compare to Rosa Parks level of demonstration or a letter writing campaign it does however have a greater effect.

Odd I know but if you send a letter to a politician the person that sees that letter is the politicians no one else in the world will ever see that letter, however signing an online petition will be seen by everyone. And while it will just make you number 20459 on that document it doesn't mean you didn't assist in doing something that is easily seen by others. Though, like you illustrated, there are numerous new ways to send the letter and let everyone know you sent it and what it said. Just to be clear I'm not talking about taking credit I'm talking about initiating a debate that would otherwise be left up to a politician to start.

dmase:
I agree that the simplicity of clicking on something might instigate an intellectual and political laziness but it does allow something to be brought to the attention of those in charge. Even if a petition doesn't cause a change in the world of a 24 hour news cycle a million votes in one day petition becomes a powerful weapon for forcing politicians to speak out on a topic that they would rather avoid.

Interesting way to put it, I will have to keep what you said in mind next time somebody questions me about the effectiveness of doing my protesting online. Still a form that can email half a dozen newspaper outlets with instructions on how to word, research, and validate your story is pretty badass!

Saulkar:

dmase:
I agree that the simplicity of clicking on something might instigate an intellectual and political laziness but it does allow something to be brought to the attention of those in charge. Even if a petition doesn't cause a change in the world of a 24 hour news cycle a million votes in one day petition becomes a powerful weapon for forcing politicians to speak out on a topic that they would rather avoid.

Interesting way to put it, I will have to keep what you said in mind next time somebody questions me about the effectiveness of doing my protesting online. Still a form that can email half a dozen newspaper outlets with instructions on how to word, research, and validate your story is pretty badass!

Just make sure the words are truly yours. There are some creative letter-writing campaigns where you select paragraphs and put them together in your own order, and then send them to the WH and your Congress critters. Don't do that-- the mail-sorting volunteers are savvy to it, and it'll be grouped the same way all petition-type mail is.

From my experience sorting mail for politicians as a volunteer:
-don't use postcards, they tend to get binned
-you *can* do the petition/mass letter thing, but it's not as effective. They're tallied in a different way than regular letters. Internet petitions, unless it's the WH site or a petition to an advertiser that could affect their bottom line, are generally useless.
-letters or emails in your own words, fairly concisely-written, are still the #1 best way to be heard. These are the things elected officials pay the most attention to, that serve as a "people really care about this issue" barometer. Daily totals of non-mass-mail received on key issues are reported to the President, and some of the best example letters are forwarded up the chain, some of these are actually seen by the President or his close staff.
-phone calls work too, especially with Congress and on a bill that's up for vote soon, if you live in the Member's district. Knowing the specific bill number is helpful. Sometimes saying that you voted for him or her, and are angry at their conduct, gets extra attention.

If you want to be part of the system and change it from within, look at your local campaigns and volunteer. If you're under 35 and a US citizen, look into your local Young Democrats or Young Republicans. Do that, and you'll meet all manner of interesting people, and have the ability to tell the candidates how you feel one-on-one.

(If you want to be part of the protest-attending kind of activism, ask someone else. Most of what I've done has been election-based, although I did go to an Occupy rally that was great and fine except for some excited kids who tried to jump over the WH fence and make the rest of us look like idiots. Not that I think this kind of activism is ineffective, because I have a lot of respect for it, it's just that I'm disabled, and getting arrested is for people who can take that kind of physical tossing-around.)

Polarity27:

Just make sure the words are truly yours. There are some creative letter-writing campaigns where you select paragraphs and put them together in your own order, and then send them to the WH and your Congress critters. Don't do that-- the mail-sorting volunteers are savvy to it, and it'll be grouped the same way all petition-type mail is.

Gotcha, in my case however I was only provided points to cover and research rather than whole paragraphs so I had to write most of it myself.

Polarity27:

-you *can* do the petition/mass letter thing, but it's not as effective. They're tallied in a different way than regular letters. Internet petitions, unless it's the WH site or a petition to an advertiser that could affect their bottom line, are generally useless.

I still think that it helps somewhat in that if a petition gets enough publicity that it may enter into the mainstream consciousness.

Polarity27:

-letters or emails in your own words, fairly concisely-written, are still the #1 best way to be heard. These are the things elected officials pay the most attention to, that serve as a "people really care about this issue" barometer. Daily totals of non-mass-mail received on key issues are reported to the President, and some of the best example letters are forwarded up the chain, some of these are actually seen by the President or his close staff.

I do these to however I am rather annoyed by the generic, grinning-sociopathic nothing is wrong except you type response from those that receive my mail.

Polarity27:

-phone calls work too, especially with Congress and on a bill that's up for vote soon, if you live in the Member's district. Knowing the specific bill number is helpful. Sometimes saying that you voted for him or her, and are angry at their conduct, gets extra attention.

In my case however I am general way too introverted and half deaf over the phone and thus generally panic when trying to phone even my own relatives.

Polarity27:

(If you want to be part of the protest-attending kind of activism, ask someone else. Most of what I've done has been election-based, although I did go to an Occupy rally that was great and fine except for some excited kids who tried to jump over the WH fence and make the rest of us look like idiots. Not that I think this kind of activism is ineffective, because I have a lot of respect for it, it's just that I'm disabled, and getting arrested is for people who can take that kind of physical tossing-around.)

I am generally in a rut with this one as I live in a backwater town that is thousands of kilometers from any important city and thus have little ability to attend physical rallies. Furthermore I have finally found my path in life that cannot be missed however rather than just throw my hands up in the air and say screw it I try my best to be aggressive online and spread the word to those that have the ability and courage to make their presence physical.

Signing petitions is a waste of time.

Being a passionate supporter of free speech, I've informally offered legal and cursory technical advice to various groups on how to circumvent political free speech limitations in their nations.

Nothing major, but then again, it currently doesn't take all that much effort to castrate the potency of free speech limitations. At least those in states that aren't outright police states which trace everything their citizens do.

xDarc:

Instead, you're spot on, they're all clicktivists today, getting on trendy causes like Koni that's forgotten before the year is over.

Meanwhile, I still remember every fucked up thing from 2001 and nobody talks about it anymore. Nobody talks about why we invaded Iraq, some people in the media have come forward saying that they were ashamed for their role in selling the war.

I could ramble on forever so I'm just gonna stop unless there are questions, which there usually are not.

Actually, this time, there is.

My activism has been limited to issues I personally feel strongly about, and sending letters to MPs and Cabinet members.

I've had opportunities to attend rallies recently (now that I'm at university and in a big city), but as I see them invariably marching past my window in pursuit of whatever (usually frivolous) cause, I do wonder how many of them actually support it, and why they actually think they'll make a difference.

I'm also guessing this "Clicktivism" is an Americanisation of "Cliquetivism"? Where people go with what's "cool" on the bandwagon? Or is it "Clicktivism" in the sense of "E-Activism?"

Which, yes, I think is particularly useless most of the time.

The real e-activists are probably anonymous and wikileaks, and all those people who kept the internet up during the Arab spring. You know how you can tell? Governments want them to stop what they're doing.

 

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