Talking with Steve Paikin about “slacktivism”

There’s been a lot of debate lately about the value of joining a Facebook group as a form of protest, and whether that just constitutes digital “slacktivism,” particularly in the context of the Facebook group opposing the proroguing of Parliament (if you don’t have any idea what that is or why you might care, there’s a brief overview here).

I recently talked to Steve Paikin, host of The Agenda on TVO, about whether Facebook activism matters or not in the larger scheme of things, and whether it would translate into real action (as it turned out, it did — last weekend, after the show was taped, more than 25,000 people across the country showed up to protest). The video is embedded in this post, and is also available on YouTube and at the TVO site.

On the subject of Facebook’s validity as a grassroots political tool, I tried to point out to Steve (as my friend David Eaves did in his piece for the Globe), that a Facebook group membership is something that deserves to be paid attention to, and that in fact joining such a group arguably means more than a petition, since membership in a group is a public act.

In addition to Facebook, Steve and I also talked about the success of the “text money to Haiti” campaign, and how the volume of people doing that — more than $25-million has been raised by the Red Cross in the U.S. alone through texting — says a lot about the positive side of digital activism. We also talked about the value of Twitter in the context of a disaster like Haiti, when it acted as a real-life newswire of on-the-ground sources.

3 thoughts on “Talking with Steve Paikin about “slacktivism”

  1. I think facebook definately has the potential to initiate grassroots movements, wheather they be political or otherwise. If you have enough people who are passionate about something, they will find a way to get together and make a statement.

  2. I run into the “slacktivism” charge all the time, and it's part of a set of criticisms of social media that go along with “why do I care about someone telling me they washed their hair?” The backlash against the Ontario government over changes to driver's licencing alone should have been a message that this sort of networked response to a public issue can (not WILL) move the needle.

    One of the things that makes assessing the impact of groups like CAPP more difficult in the context of more top-down organizing is that there's not the same goal-objectives-tactics-evaluation paradigm because there's no single person.

    There's all kinds of evidence out there; it's just not always as easily visible as CAPP or Haiti.

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