Internet Intent Versus Actual
Social media in general has taken a leap and transcended borders that no other medium could possibly have achieved in the past. I accept as Evgeny made it abundantly clear in his video that the internet has provided a platform for bloggers via Twitter, Facebook, etc. To exchange ideas, make friends and promote awareness of some issues, Harness world opinion as has happened in the Arab Spring, to organise campaigns as it reduces the difficulty of collective action to certain extent and to try to influence the decision making of certain companies in the west as it has happened with HSBC in America when they decided to renegade on the promise they made to students in respect of their overdraft. Recently, parties were organised using Facebook and Twitter to celebrate the passing of Margaret Thatcher.
No one can deny the internet has made it cheap to produce content and easy to reach a wider audience. We still have to keep in mind that awareness is only manifested when the issue in question is of interest to the person targeted and to harness world opinion without the traditional mediums such as TV, Radio and Newspapers would be limited in its impact.
Invisible Children succeeded in their campaign to raise awareness of the atrocities committed by Koni in the past. If the campaign was simply about bringing him to justice, then it was a just cause but the claim was to make him stop, in this case the campaign was at least six years too late. Subsequently the campaign triggered a floodgate of theories and questions.
Is there a hidden agenda? Is it simply propaganda? Is it a scam?
Western governments were fully aware of Koni and his atrocities.
Girls and boys are raped in conflict areas in Africa.
Why not campaign to bring to justice those who dropped bombs on babies in Gaza
Would the campaign have succeeded without the blessing of western governments?
Evgeny’s views are polarized and pragmatic because he is acutely more aware of the intricacies of social media in general and online social activism in particular visa-vis the forces at play when it comes to undemocratic countries. (Most of the undemocratic countries are supported and their survival is dependent on western governments). To embark on discussing this topic without a deep understanding of the world geopolitical map, cultural and social differences and one glove fits all is crude. The claims that online social activism has led or will lead to promoting and exporting democracy, and transforming countries are misleading.
There has to be a clear distinction between online social activism in democratic and undemocratic countries (As a person activist in a dictatorial country requires more than just conviction, passion, commitment and belief in the cause, is the risk to endure torture and imprisonment if one gets caught. For a group of activists, it would take a different dimension as abstractedly highlighted in the article “Revolution will not be tweeted”.
The claim that Arab spring was successful because of online social activism is at best misleading. Let’s take Egypt, the population is made up of 80 million, 160 000 household with broadband, average salary is £10 per a day for a 12 hour shift and unemployment rate around 10% without social welfare system, and no NHS. In the case of Libya and Iran most of the online activism was carried out in the west among expatriates with no impact on the countries mentioned.
Clicktivism is a positive way to raise awareness if it is used sensibly and responsibly. Anthony Nolan Trust is foundation that deserves support.
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