Online social activism has always been a topic that I have been intrigued by, but also one that I have questioned. I have been intrigued by it because it has impacted and influenced so many people in the word; however, I have questioned it because sometimes what is being campaigned is quickly forgotten.
To begin, I would like to start off with a quote from an article explaining what social activism is, or as the article states, digital activism.
Simply put, digital activism is where digital tools (the internet, mobile phones, social media etc) are used towards bringing about social and/or political change.
A few examples of online social activism that I am going to discuss are: #bringbackourgirls, #IceBucketChallenge, and #MeToo.
The #bringbackourgirls campaign that was developed in 2014 was a campaign to free more than 200 young women who were abducted by Boko Haram. All over social media sites people were using the hashtag #bringbackourgirls to spread awareness of the abductions of these women. Michelle Obama, the Pope, and Malala Yousafazi were few of many who tweeted about the campaign and used the hashtag. This campaign reached its peak in 2014, and then it seemed as if people forgot about the campaign completely. Hilary Matfess wrote an article about how the campaign has evolved in past three years since it reached its peak in 2014. As of April 2017, almost nothing has changed. Out of the 276 women that were abducted, only 21 of them were released. Although the #bringbackourgirls movement was popular and widespread around the world, it did very little to actually bring back our girls. This is one of the reasons why I question online social activism – if we have a campaign that has reached around the world, how can we not get positive outcomes from it?
The ALS #IceBucketChallenge was another campaign that was developed in 2014. This campaign was to raise awareness and money to help find a cure for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The challenge included people tipping buckets of ice water over their heads, and then nominating three other people to do the challenge. People who do this challenge are then asked to donate to the ALS Association. This challenge was so popular that celebrities were taking part in it. Over the course of this challenge, the ALS Association raised more than $115 million dollars, and according to this article, the money raised financed a discovery. Now, although a lot of people did not donate after they did the #IceBucketChallenge, they did raise awareness about it which is equally as important. This is one of the reasons why I am intrigued by social media campaigns, because just look at the difference it has made in the world.
The #MeToo campaign is the latest campaign that I have come across that has reached internationally. According to this article, “more than 1.7 million women and men have used the hashtag in 85 countries.” This campaign is one that really touches home to me and I am extremely happy that this campaign has had results emerge from it. This article has a great explanation of what the #MeToo campaign is all about.
Many shared brief but painful personal stories of their experiences, some reaching back to their teen years, others to bad memories of abuse in the workplace never revealed, of troubles they encountered in their families and of their own silence in the face of harassment or assault.
The #MeToo campaign has encouraged so many people to speak up about their sexual abuse experiences and because so many people have spoken up, people realize that they are not alone in this. The first to be accused under this campaign was Harvey Weinstein who has since been fired from his job, and on top of that, according to this article, as of February 2018 a lawsuit has been filed against the Weinstein Company. Weinstein is just one of the many accused of sexual abuse through this campaign. I am thrilled that women are finally feeling strong and brave enough to be able to speak up about these horrors that they faced, and that these accusations are being taken seriously. This campaign is one of the reasons why I believe online social activism campaigns work.