Becoming Involved in the Age of Digital Activism

In Digital Activism Decoded, Dave Karpf first discusses whether or not the wide array of tools provided by the Internet actually makes political activism any more successful than it was before the digital revolution. He explains that there are two ways to look at this: tactical and strategic. Tactical measurements may tell you the number of people who have signed a petition, read a blog post, or re-tweeted a story (the list goes on). On the flip side, strategic measurements focus on how the varied actions people take on the web affects the success of a particular campaign.

It is important to understand the difference between these two types of metrics because they provide reasoning for why people overestimate the impact of the digital revolution on political activism. While on the Internet, people may spend a great deal of time and energy on a certain campaign.  Unfortunately, this does not necessarily directly relate to the success of the campaign.

I felt that this article provided strong back up for what Morozov argues in Orwell’s Favorite Lolcat. He explains that people were far more politically informed when they had nothing but political news to watch. With the increasing number of options, people became less and less concerned about politics. He then argues that the increase of escapism, the Internet has created a generation of “digital captives” that are unlikely to participate in any sort of legitimate political activism.

Last week I felt that the rise of the Internet could actually lead to a rise in political activism, but further reading and thought has led me to believe that I was wrong.  After reading The Net Delusion, I was quick to argue Morozov’s points as inaccurate. Yet understanding the difference between tactical and strategic measurements helped me understand that I was equating tactical efforts with actual political activism. I now understand that just because I re-tweet a story and read a blog post about a particular campaign does not necessarily mean that I am actively contributing to its success. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if unconventional types of political media really spur collective action or if they make it too easy to put in minimal effort.  That being said, how do you think we can increase political activism among our generation? What can we do to make sure that the right people hear about our issues?

This entry was posted in Winter 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

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