Youths of today have been branded as lazy, slack, unambitious, money-leeches but we have never been acknowledged as compassionate, politically minded people. However, through the rise of participatory politics, younger generations are finally being re-branded and – most importantly – heard on political issues that concern them.
It is from the rapid rise of social media that has enabled participatory culture to re-invent itself as more and more people are turning to social media to be heard. Since youths spend the majority of their time on social media, it is an obvious tool to use to disseminate your message and coordinate action across multiple networks and platforms – including traditional medias. Such is the case of KONY 2012. Henry Jenkins notes that KONY was only planned to reach, “half a million viewers over two months”. Rather, the KONY 2012 video was launched and reached a staggering “100 million viewers over the first week”. The following statistics on KONY exemplify how powerful one voice can be when social media is used:
The numbers are phenomenal and the result somewhat depressing. As we are all aware, KONY 2012 failed and for many reasons – but the most obvious one was that it had, “limited ‘drillability’ (the ability to drill deep into the issues).”
This is a serious problem with using social media as a means to express opinions and political movements. Take the White House launching its own Tumblr site. Is it the new form of political campaigning? Frankly, I believe so. As more youths are discarding the power that they have to vote, this is a way for the President to meet them halfway and delve into their worlds.
As we are caught up in the hype of the issue – especially issues on quality of life or emotionally-driven issues – we forget to actually look past the campaign’s face value. I don’t know about you, but I am an absolute sucker for WSPA campaigns and I will always sign petitions or donate money. But it is the way that they target to your emotions that annoys me. They present you with pamphlets brimming with photographs of neglected and abused animals then proceed to ask for a donation to help these animals or sign the petition to stop such-and-such government. I am not disregarding the fact that these animals are abused and neglected and that it is a highly emotional and serious issue – but why do they still exist if there are so many petitions and awareness? This is where the term “slacktivism” is introduced. It defines a feel-good moment when you ‘click’ for your support on a moral, political or social issue without “having to actually get one’s hands dirty or open one’s wallet“.
Maybe we have finally found the a way to world peace – it’s just a *click* away.