Submit: The Failure of Social Media "Activism"

Social media have, without a doubt, already begun to revolutionize the political process world wide, and has been credited with facilitating popular uprisings and even the toppling of governments the world over. However, in many cases, it also serves a more reactionary function: to create an appearance of activity and engagement that masks a more fundamental social and political passivity.  A new study out of UC San Diego shows the superficiality of social media slacktivism.  Excerpt:

“The study is an important counter-balance to unbridled enthusiasm for the powers of social media,” said UC San Diego’s Lewis. “There’s no inherent magic. Social media can activate interpersonal ties but won’t necessarily turn ordinary citizens into hyper-activists.”
In the case of the Save Darfur campaign, the Causes Facebook app appears to have been “more marketing than mobilization,” Lewis said. It seems to have failed to convert the initial act of joining into a more sustained set of behaviors. For the vast majority of the members, he said, “the commitment might have been only as deep as a click.”


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