The most impactful form of social media mobilization is cyber activism. Cyber actisism allows indivuals to use various social media platforms to promote and educate others in their circle or community about a charity or cause they are passionate about. Everyone has something that draws them to a cause, for example women are being drawn to advocating for safe abortions due to the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. Being connected to a cause makes it easy for us to share it to others. And social media makes it easy to turn our passion into something more than just a thought. ‘“It removes many of the barriers that have existed in the past” (Fairey, 2015).
There are believe it or not negatives to cyber activisim. One negative is that it can very easily get out of control. You could be advocating for same sex marriages but someone who is against them could bring a whole army of people to flood your posts with their own message and hate speach towards you and your message. Another downside is that it has mixed results if it actually helps the cause finanically and educating others about it at all.
An example of where cyber activism actually was benefical to a cause was with ALS & the ice bucket challenge campaign. The challage was simple: dump a bucket of ice cold water on someone and that person nominates someone else to do the same. If you did not do it within 24 hours of being nomminated you had to make a donation to the ALS foundation. At the peak of the challenge a lot of celebirties like Leah Remni and Ellen took part in it. Sharing the challenge was simple, you just had to make a video and share it on your social media platforms. The challenge raised a lot of money in the end. Although it did little to spread awarness of ALS, what it is and treatments. “As noted by many commentators, these social media users lack any awareness of the condition of ALS, nor displayed obvious empathy with those suffering from ALS. Yet, a report by the Guardian noted that it managed to fund important breakthrough in ALS research.” (Netivist, 2022) So many debate if it was actually successful.
Although finanically the ice bucket challenge was successful, the breast cancer meme campaign could not say the same. Every October it is breast cancer awarness month. Typically this is where you see more advertisments to go get breast examines, companies sell pink verisons of their items like Krispy Creme has pink donuts, and people wearing pink ribbons on their shirts. Well one year a woman decided to mix things up and start something new to bring awarness. That year women were sent private messages asking them to update their social media statuses with their name and a single color which was supposed to indicate the color of bra they were wearing that day. The thought behind doing this was that it would bring awarness to the issue because men would be confused and message the women asking what it meant. The woman then would send them a message about breast cancer.
Although the intentions were pure the statuses grew into something sexual. “One private message asked females to change their Facebook status to the location where they likely put their purse. The status updates would read “I like it on the floor” or “I like it behind the couch.”” In the end none of the statuses could actually be linked to an increase of donations to various foundations. (Mahoney, L. M., & Tang, T, 2017) A lot of breast cancer activists pushed back and said that the topic should be taken more seriously. And I have to somewhat agree. Although I do poke fun at serious issues sometimes, for example pro-life people saying “What if your mom aborted you?”, well I wish she would have sometimes. Something feels wrong sexualizing breast cancer. Although not everyone feels the same. I believe while it may be easier for some to share memes and make jokes about serious causes we should do more to actually make a difference. I suggest adding links on to posts with a direct way to donate to the cause. Or if you are sharing a video, stating quick facts that educate people and sharing charties to donate to.
The statuses went viral because they were a fun way to play with men’s minds with a mystery status. Thousands of people wanted to participate because it was an interactive way to involve people and not the same old “donate here! or “did you get your mamgram this year?”. The statuses fell short in user mobilization it did not motivate change, it was just a fun status game to play. There was no increase of donations or breast exams due to it. There were no real life experiences involved, it was a generic movement. We need to do better and stop making serious issues into funny social media trends with no serious intentions.
Fairey, B. A. (2015, April 1). The age of online activism. The Cord. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://thecord.ca/the-age-of-online-activism/
Fenner, K. (2020, October 11). Breast cancer cyberactivism. Krys Fenner aka Brigit Rosé. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://krysfenner.co/2020/10/11/breast-cancer-cyberactivism/
netivist. (2022). Online activism pros and cons: Does it work? netivist.org. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://netivist.org/debate/online-activism-pros-and-consMahoney, L. M., & Tang, T. (2017). Chapter 1 – Understanding Social Media and Social Behavior Change. In Strategic social media: From marketing to social change, Wiley Blackwell.
Netivist. (2022). Online activism pros and cons: Does it work? netivist.org. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://netivist.org/debate/online-activism-pros-and-cons
Weisberg, C. (2020, September 29). Ice bucket challenge, fundraising efforts lead to potential ALS Breakthrough. St. Peter’s Health Partners News. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://news.sphp.com/news/ice-bucket-challenge-fundraising-efforts-lead-to-potential-als-breakthrough/
Ziajka, S. (2017, January 18). Think pink for breast cancer awareness month. Diary of a Debutante. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://thediaryofadebutante.com/breast-cancer-awareness-month/