You Can’t Change The World By Clicking A Button!

Online political activism has been described as superficial engagement as it essentially lacks the personal ties of a community that once drove social change (Henry Jenkins, 2012). The convergence of technology, particularly social media, has altered the way our generation participates in politics as we no longer rally and protest for something we believe in. Instead we utilise the internet to show our support by liking and sharing online campaigns with the hope of starting an online movement. Realistically, liking a page on Facebook isn’t going to achieve anything. Social movements require organisation, strong social bonds and ultimately sacrifice.

slacktivism1_0Clicktivism is all about utilising the power of digital media in order to bring social change and promote activism. Just like any other form of social change, online activism faces the challenge of individual mediation. Like me, a vast majority of people doubt the concept of online campaigns as they believe they cannot maintain interest and gain sufficient momentum to actually change anything. Whilst others may view social media as a quick and easy way to show their support, I view clicktivism as a cop-out as it doesn’t show true passion for a cause or movement.

The aftermath of the #Kony2012 campaign left many realising the true power of social media. Gen Y’s desire to fix social problems with little effort and as quickly as possible provided the momentum the campaign needed. After being shared across multiple different social platforms, the 30 minute video acquired more than 100 million views within the first week of being posted. The rise of digital media, particularly social media, has resulted in younger generations moving away from social activism and towards social clicktivism.

Citizen Journalism

In today’s society, the creation of user-generated content now takes place in a range of different forms online. According to Axel Bruns, these range from “widely distributed, loose and ad hoc networks of participants to more centralised sites of collaborative work”. A member of the public can write a blog, upload a video onto YouTube, update their status on Facebook, or post a photo on Instagram based on any topic or issue which they believe is newsworthy.

The concept of citizen journalism is essentially recognised as public citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and broadcasting news and information” for others to see. The emergence of the internet and social media has had a significant impact on “social practices, the media, economic and legal frameworks, and democratic society itself” (Bruns, A 2007). As a result of the convergence of new media technology, particularly social networking and media sharing websites, citizen journalism has become much more accessible to audiences worldwide.

citizen-journalism-oAccording to Katie Hawkins-Gaar (CNN) journalism has changed forever, “people can interact with media organisations and share their opinions, personal stories, and photos and videos of news as it happens”. The internet gave the average person the ability to broadcast information to a global audience instantaneously.

As the traditional media outlet environment is becoming much more constrained by the availability of resources and time, the rise of user-generated content online, particularly citizen journalism, can only strengthen journalism as a whole. Not only do the consumers have the opportunity to be the producers, but media outlets and networks could acquire exclusive and up-to-date content which would benefit them significantly.