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Social Conscience

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Social Conscience

  1. 1. S O C I A L C O N S C I E N C E A DISCOURSE ON DIGITAL PHILANTHROPY AND CLIMATE ACTIVISM BY ERIN KOWALSKI
  2. 2. PART OF EVERY DAY LIFE In the digital age, online activism has become mainstream.
  3. 3. While many celebratedigital philanthropy as part of the solution to inaction, there are cynics who critiqueit as ineffectual.
  4. 4. N E W A R R I V A L A CLOSER LOOK Despite the stigmathat surrounds the effectiveness of online activism, a review of digital climate change action reveals that social engagement has the power to effect connective action.
  5. 5. KEY TERM Much debate on the topic of online activism focuses on the concept of clicktivism, which is defined as facilitating social change and activism via the use of digital media.1
  6. 6. Critics view online activism as slacktivism, going so far as to stipulate that it has a placebo effect due to the minimal amount of effort required on the part of participants. The simple act of supporting a cause behind the veil of a screen does little to encourage people to leave their comfort zone.2
  7. 7. Yet, despite the cynics—those who do nothing more than foster a world that runs rampant with cynicism—there are individuals that tune in, fight for what they believe in, and change the world.3
  8. 8. WHEN WE FAIL TO ACT When people stop fighting for the future that they desire, they create a dead end. Doing nothing results in nothing getting done.4
  9. 9. “Cynicism is a protective mechanism when going out on a limb feels dangerous, but in facing modern challenges, it is not going to save you. Every action and inaction matter and serve as equally powerful catalysts for what comes next: a positive difference, or enabled lesser acts by others.”5 - Miranda Wheeler
  10. 10. Incidentally, history demonstrates that, over time, an impactful differencecan be made by many people taking small actions.
  11. 11. From civil rights to women’s rights, anti- war to labour, grassroots movements have always carried a social element, using the latest technology availableto spread their message.6
  12. 12. Botanic a “Digital media, such as social networks, campaign websites and email, are the twenty first century town square.”7 - Alexander White TODAY, THE MESSAGE BEARER IS DIGITAL.
  13. 13. When it comes to climate change activism, social engagement has proven merit.
  14. 14. GREENPEACE • In 2011, Greenpeace ran a campaign on Facebook to petition against Facebook’s use of coal to power their data servers • After acquiring more than 700,000 likes over 20 months, the social network conglomerate announced a new policy with a focus on using renewable energy8
  15. 15. CLIMATE COUNCIL • In 2013, the Australian Climate Commission was defunded • Climate change action in the form of a crowdfunded initiative was able to transfer the Commission into the Climate Council, a now independent institution9
  16. 16. WWF INTERNATIONAL • The World Wildlife Fund has a strong and successful track record of using global social media initiatives to ignite brand awareness and public emotion • When 1.6 million people signed the petition for the Virunga campaign, it became backed by law and business ethics, resulting in future protection of the World Heritage site and habitat10
  17. 17. N E W A R R I V A L INSPIRING ACTION The success of these initiatives, and of all digital climate change campaigns, lies in their ability to increase awareness, which results in encouraging motivated people to discover ways to get involved.
  18. 18. However, to ensure that they are being effective at inciting lucrative social change, online activists must take care to also impart real-world activism, as clicking on its own risks having insufficient impact.11
  19. 19. To further ensure success, online activists and creators of digital activism campaigns would benefit from drawing inspiration from the dragonfly, which symbolizes that small movements are capable of bringing about tremendous aftereffects.12 THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT
  20. 20. As scholars Aaker and Smith have shown, social impactcan best be achieved through the four wings of the metaphorical dragonfly to make sure that the message: 1. Is clear in focus 2. Grabs the attentionof the target demographic 3. Creates engagement 4. Inspires people to take action13
  21. 21. Finally, individuals who are serious about devoting themselves to evoking real climate change action should take care not to spread themselves too wide and thin by simultaneously supporting multiple causes rather than only one, for as playwright Richard Foreman warns, having access to a vast network of information at our fingertips runs the risk of turning us into ‘pancake people.’14 PANCAKE PEOPLE
  22. 22. At the end of the day, there will always be negative attitudes when it comes to clicktivism. Whether it be the result of anti-activism propaganda or a gross underestimate of the power of collective unity, digital social engagement has proven to be a successful advocate of climate change activism.
  23. 23. THERE IS POWER IN DIGITAL UNITY Together, we have the collective power to move mountains and make an enormous imprintin the fight against climate change. The greatest peril is in joining the pessimists and taking no action at all.
  24. 24. SOURCES 1. Ritu Sharma, “Stop Pouring Ice on Clicktivism,” The Huffington Post, August 20, 2014, accessed May 25, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ritusharma/stop-pouring-ice-on-click_b_5692555.html. 2. Sidneyeve Matrix, “Social Good,” Lecture, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, May 29, 2017. 3.Miranda Wheeler, “What 5 Great Minds Can Teach Us About on Cynicism and Activism,” The Odyssey Online, March 28, 2017, accessed May 29, 2017, https://www.theodysseyonline.com/5-great-minds-teach-cynicism- activism. 4.Ibid. 5.Ibid. 6.Alexander White, “Can online environmental activism deliver change offline?,” The Guardian, June 7, 2013, accessed May 23, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/southern-crossroads/2013/jun/07/online- environmental-activism-offline-change-clicktivism. 7. Ibid. 8.Ibid. 9.Jessica Emma McLean and Sara Fuller, “Action with(out) activism: understanding digital climate change action,” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 36 Issue: 9/0, pp.578-595, doi: 10.1108/ IJSSP-12-2015-0136, http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-12-2015-0136. 10.“How the WWF inspires global action with social media,” Hootsuite, accessed May 29, 2017, https://hootsuite.com/resources/case-study/how-the-wwf-inspires-global-action-with-social-media. 11. Marc and Craig Kielburger, “Global Voices: ‘Liking’ must be followed up with real-world action,” Times Colonist, April 12, 2015, accessed May 25, 2017, http://www.timescolonist.com/life/global-voices-liking-must-be- followed-up-with-real-world-action-1.1820728 12. Jan Van Der Kaaij, “The Dragonfly Effect: How to strategically use social media in sustainability,” Finch & Beak, January 31, 2011, accessed May 27, 2017, https://www.finchandbeak.com/551/the-dragonfly-effect.htm. 13. Sabrina Bresciani and Andreas Schmeil, “Social media platforms for social good,” Digital Ecosystems Technologies (DEST), 2012 6th IEEE International Conference, July 2, 2012, doi: 10.1109/DEST.2012.6227944, p.2. 14. Sidneyeve Matrix, “Digital Literacies,” Lecture, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, May 2, 2017.
  25. 25. SOCIAL CONSCIENCE © ERIN KOWALSKI, 2017 FILM 260 | QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY A DISCOURSE ON DIGITAL PHILANTHROPY AND CLIMATE ACTIVISM ALL PHOTOS LICENSED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS ZERO

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