“Online vs Offline Activism- Showing your support?”

I think that there has been a rapid transformation of new media forms that can help connect with different communities virtually anywhere in the world at a low and affordable cost. These platforms give us endless opportunities to have our voices heard. “An important attribute of the net (broadly understood) is its capacity to facilitate horizontal, or civic communication: people and organizations can link up with each other for purposes of sharing information, providing mutual support, organizing, mobilizing, or solidifying collective identities.” Dalhgren (2012) Social media technologies such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Blogs, and Forums have become the preferred methods of interaction and are seriously changing the patterns of social communication and activism. After doing the readings I wanted to focus on the differences between online vs offline activism, and give some benefits/opportunities but also some drawbacks.

 I quickly just wanted to look at what online and offline activists are. Signing online petitions, liking certain campaigns on social media websites, or organizing movements within the cyber space are all examples of actions an online activist may participate in. An offline activist is someone who may participate in all of the above actions, but also participates in movements outside the Internet space.

So we have talked previously in this class about the importance of our online personas, and how we are always trying to stay actively engaged. One way to stay engaged with your communities is to become an online activist. There are tons of online forums, petitions and video sharing opportunities online and one can easily help a cause my “liking” a page, or sharing a viral video. This is one of the benefits social media has given to social activism, ultimate convenience. I could basically sit on my computer chair and be participating in something.  It also generates a larger number of those who have become aware of the need for action. Even though the whole Kony video was a bit of a bust, it is a great example of the vast amount of people that a viral video can reach due to social media. Bruns & Highfield explain this opportunity of social media perfectly, they said, “the rise of the Internet as a popular medium has led to a substantial increase in available channels for information and entertainment, among other purposes.” There are of course some people to may believe that online activism is a bit of a cop-out and that the only way to be really involved, and really show support is through physically being there, and physically inputting yourself into the campaign at hand.

So my question for you fellow bloggers is…….”Do you consider yourself an online activists, If so how?!” Also, “Do you think that online activism is just as supportive as offline activism?” 

This is my picture for this week, and I used it because I know it was totally circulating all over social media after the whole Kony thing. And I know that it caused to debates so I thought it was a good picture to depict the indifference between online vs offline activism. 

Image

Sources 

Bruns, A. & T. Highfield. (2012). Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism. pre-publication draft on personal site [Snurb.info]. Published in: Lind, R. A. ed. (2012). Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang. p15-32.

Dahlgren, P. (2012). Reinventing participation: civic agency and the web environment. Geopolitics, History, and International Relations. 4.2, p27.

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4 responses to ““Online vs Offline Activism- Showing your support?”

  1. I don’t consider myself an online activist at all. I found an interesting poll online discussing the effectiveness of online activism. In the article it states that critics refer to online activism as “slacktivism” and that it is not a very effective way to create change. Mostly because as you stated, anyone can be involved even if they do not really care about the cause and all that is required is sitting in a chair and pushing a “like” button or typing your name on a petition. Personally, I think a large group of people with strong opinions, holding signs and creating noise is much more effective than anything that can be done online. http://www.thejournal.ie/poll-is-online-activism-is-effective-457372-May2012/

  2. The Kony example is one of the best examples there are of online activism. I hate to say it but I was also all about the Kony life until someone told me it was a fake. I would consider myself an online activist once in a while, because I do “like” things on facebook such as events or sign petitions, or “retweet” something I think is important. However, I don’t consider myself as much of an offline activist. As much as I would like to say they are probably both equally supportive, I don’t think this is true UNLESS you are donating money online or setting up groups. But if you are just liking something on facebook, you aren’t really doing anything to support a cause besides spread the word. Which is great don’t get me wrong, but actually doing something to help the cause will always have a much better effect, and I would consider that more supportive.

  3. Like most of us I would consider myself more of an online activist than offline activist. As a user of both Facebook and Twitter it definitely encourages me to participate as a citizen journalist because it seems like everyone these days is contributing somehow with their views and/or opinions on relevant news. However that is not to say that I am frequently posting on Facebook or Twitter all the time, but every now and then I like to give my two cents on a topic if I feel that I have knowledge or something important to contribute to the discussion. I would say though that I think offline activism is more supportive than online because it requires you to at least take some kind of action instead of just sitting on your computer and posting, liking or retweeting.

  4. melaniemunroe

    Haha that picture speaks a thousand words. I swear every person on Facebook thinks that they are a social activist when they post some “groundbreaking” video. I love how you mentioned that Kony 2012 video. I don’t know one person who didn’t post that video (besides me). Seriously though, I think it takes a lot more to be a social activist than just posting a video online. You really need to go out there and do something instead of pretending you are behind a computer screen. I wouldn’t consider myself an online activist. I have signed some petitions on the Internet in my days, but I wouldn’t really count that as being much of an activist. I really believe you need to get out in the world in order to make a difference.

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