QCQ for “Small Change”
by Malcolm Gladwell
“Social networks are effective at increasing participation – by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires … Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice” (6).
Social media requires participation rather than mobilization, and weak-ties rather than strong-ties. As Gladwell explains in this quote, by lessening the level of motivation needed to contribute to a cause and not requiring any real sacrifices to be made, the level of participation increases. However, while this is true, I think that the factor of weak-ties may make it easier to just scroll past a cause. In an English class in high school, we wrote a whole essay taking a stance for “slacktivism” (social media activism) or against it. I think that activism on social media is not truly activism. Rather, it promotes awareness.
A text-to-world example of this would be relating it to the current Climate Crisis. People may post and repost campaigns to spread awareness about global warming, but this does not pressure governments or large corporations to make any real change. However, since people don’t have to make any real sacrifices, they are more likely to “participate” in the discussion promoted by social media. But this does NOT mean that they will help to mobilize the movement on the ground. If we are going to use social media as a platform, our best bet is to use its networking capabilities to spread awareness of the movements, and then mobilize this awareness through hierarchical activist movements (like Black Lives Matter). Those who truly care about the cause will be willing to make a sacrifice. Hierarchical problematic governments and corporations can only truly be fought with hierarchical activist movements, with the aid of the networking of social media to spread awareness to a larger audience of people.
Can social media ever truly fight against hierarchical governments, corporations, and their policies? How can we utilize social media as a complementary tool to encourage people to make sacrifices and contribute to real life protests and movements without losing the audience to “slacktivism”?