The Controversy of Activism

In the blog post “New Media, New Civics? My Bellwether lecture at the Oxford Internet Institute” Ethan exercises the question whether social media was an essential platform that extruded Mubarak. It’s evident that some social media did cover important events that others mediums did not, for example, the protests in Gezi Square in Turkey. But is the internet given too much credit?

This question goes back to the role of anonymity that I discussed in my first blog about the effects of social media in the We are all Khaled Said” post. Can people really be activist without face to face interaction?

It’s a controversial topic because many of the social movement where assisted by online planning such as #FUCKSCAF and #YOUSTINK. If it wasn’t for the anonymity, people would not be bold enough to question their human rights as much as people do online. Is it fair it to distinguish this type of action from the original meaning of activism and categorize it as “slacktivism”?

According to the online dictionary, activism is defined as “the policy of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political and social change. It technically still is activism.

Ethan compares the Arabs’ activism to the Hispanics’ activism. Hispanics have similar ways of campaigning for political and social change but they also approach their contest a little different. For example, a group of undocumented Hispanics went back to their home country in order to receive trial in a different court, where their legal status was more likely to be granted. The group did this not only for themselves but for a bigger group of undocumented individuals. In a sense, Hispanics have demonstrated to have a more strategic way of activism. Yet again, you have to look at what this indigenous groups are picketing against; sovereignty and a presidential system.

The Controversy of Activism

One thought on “The Controversy of Activism

  1. janakornely says:

    I think you are touching on an interesting topic by talking about the different impacts of online and offline activism. I guess one important aspect to keep in mind is that online activism is often not solely on the internet, but that bloggers do participate in offline protests as well. That might not be true for all digital activists, but I guess that in many cases the internet should be seen as a way to organize offline activism. In those cases, speaking of slacktivism is definitely not appropriate and even if online activists don’t go to the streets, they can have an impact depending on what their goal is. Sometimes activists just want to raise acceptance for something (like LGBTQs, AIDS patients, etc.) and in those cases viral campaigns might be more powerful than offline activities.


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