Immortal words of Dylan Thomas beautifully express the fight against darkness in any form. Activism is the raising of an army of people rallying for or against a cause, with protest seeking some kind of change. Social media increasingly becomes the platform to share our rage.
Digital Activism uses the technology of social media to bring attention to a cause, giving anyone a voice. Millennials almost automatically innately express their feelings on social media, having grown up in the ‘always on’ sociosphere (boyd 2012). Social media gives oppressed individuals a global voice to protest social injustices, ignorance and misinformation.
Social media has spawned clicktivism and slacktivism, criticised as the minimalist online involvement and no substitute for actually ‘doing something’, however even the simple act of using a #hashtag has proven to change the world. Physical civil action has changed because of social media, but we must not dismiss online activism. Examples #bluelivesmatter #marchforlife #heforshe began tweetstorms that seized more coverage for their cause than mainstream media.
Digital activism can be louder than marching in the streets because its global reach bypasses authoritarian governments and corporations. Example, Global Citizen campaigns to end extreme poverty. Highlighting injustice, health and sanitation issues, civilians suffering in conflict, gender inequality, etc, to over 25 million responders has resulted in over 100 commitments made by governments, multilateral institutions and corporations.
Digital citizenship has challenged authoritarian regimes, from Hollywood moguls to political despots, and circulated previously suppressed information, but before we get too complacent about the power in clicking ‘like’ and reposting, consider the ever-present filter bubble. When society surrounds itself with people of shared outlook that never challenge assumptions, chances are we are only hearing the loudest squeaky wheel.
Axel Bruns explains that living in information cocoons results in “self-reinforcing ideological in-groups of hyperpartisans” threatening democracy (Bruns 2019). “The high degree of self-sorting leads to increased contempt for those with contrary views” (Sunstein 2008). When society polarises itself into Us vs Them, either through selective choice or by algorithm curation, then only the voice of the most outraged is heard against the dying of the light.
MDA2009 Assignment 1B Activism and Protest
boyd, d 2012, ‘Participating in the always-on lifestyle’, in M Mandiberg (ed) The Social Media Reader, NYU Press, pp. 71-76
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Hitchings-Hales, J and Calderwood, I 2017, “8 Massive Moments Hashtag Activism Really, Really Worked”, Global Citizen, viewed 30 April 2020, <https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/hashtag-activism-hashtag10-twitter-trends-dresslik/>
Hull, G 2017, “Why social media may not be so good for democracy”, The Conversation Media Group, viewed 2 May 2020, <https://theconversation.com/why-social-media-may-not-be-so-good-for-democracy-86285>
JainKeff, 2010, “Dylan Thomas reciting his villanelle ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’”, YouTube, viewed 2 May 2020, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2cgcx-GJTQ>
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Popova, M 2017, “The Story Behind Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ and the Poet’s Own Stirring Reading of His Masterpiece”, Brain Pickings, viewed 2 May 2020, <https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/01/24/dylan-thomas-do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night/>
Shah, N 2019, “In 10 Years of Citizen Impact, $48.4 Billion in Commitments to End Extreme Poverty”, Global Citizen, viewed 29 April 2020, <https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/10-years-total-impact-numbers/>
The Pink Protest, 2017, “The Power of Online Activism”, YouTube, viewed 2 May 2020, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=fp_LoZUEOf8&feature=emb_logo>
UN Women Org, 2019, viewed 30 April 2020, <https://www.heforshe.org/en>