#Activistism vs. #Slacktivism
Levinson (2009) writes about Twitter, “Welcome to the burgeoning world of microblogging,” (p. 133). Microblogging may be a simple and polite way to define the tweets of an egotistical user that feels they need to share they are eating a grilled cheese sandwich. In the world of tweeting, most people are lead to believe they are participating in a significant way. Twitter users believe that what they have to say about themselves in real time is noteworthy. Agree or disagree? Well, Levinson (2009) states that according to The New York Magazine (Leitch, 2009) and The Time Magazine (Johnson, 2009), “there is much that is complex and profound about tweeting” (p. 134).
In the New York Times 2009 the article How Tweet It Is by Will Leitch, discusses his visit with the Twitter “guys”, the culture and the company experience. “These guys are smarter than we were” (Leitch, 2009, para. 3). In 2009, Stone, Twitter’s co-founder, states Twitter is “like a flock of birds choreographed in flight” (Leitch, 2009, para. 7). The article concludes with a profound realization for the reader about the potential mode of critical participation. When Leitch was at the Twitter office for the first time, the Twitter employees were discussing some type of “mumbo-jumbo” (Leitch, 2009, para. 22). Leitch then noticed on the Twitter search that a user named “manolantern” tweeted and posted a picture about a plane that had just crashed into the Hudson River in Manhattan. This user tweeted 15 minutes before the New York Times was even aware. This was Janis Krum, and he was able to get to the plane and lend a helping hand. Leitch (2009) writes,
“His is a culture of sharing information. This is the culture Twitter is counting on. Whatever your thoughts on its ability to exist outside the collapsing economy or its inability (so far) to put a price tag on its services, that’s a real thing. That’s the instinct Stone was talking about. If the nation has tens of millions of people like Krums, that’s a phenomenon. That’s what Twitter is waiting for” (para. 24).
This is the epitome of critical participation afforded to us in a digital media environment.Twitter Bot — You could say it’s a cyber human pretending to be a real person to get in on the action of tweets. In general they are made to boost the followers for a certain brand or companies. There is a Twitter bot site that swears to raise new followers by 1500-3000 per week. Twitter does not keep an eye on content, so these software programs get overlooked (Digibuzz, 2012, para. 2). “However, spammers aside, some of these twitter bots can provide an amusingly unexpected mention in your interactions tab” (Digibuzz, 2012, para. 2). In this context, a Twitter bot can be a form of critical participation. On the other hand, Twitter bots are as annoying as the telemarketers that call us during the dinner hour. Hashtags are influential: beneficial and constraining. Brooke Foucault Welles, a professor of communication studies blogs, “Hashtag activism is becoming more common, with #BringBackOurGirls and #YesAllWomen specifically garnering a lot of attention recently” (Welles, 2014, para. 1). It gets many people around the world coming together to recognize a world issue. Yet, this brings about the term “slacktivism”. This term, possibly coined by political commentator Dan Carlin, defines the constraints of hashtags. It is not enough that the world is recognizing an issue but there needs to be action. Hashtags get us excited about a cause but can die a quick death due to the constraints of physically helping the cause. Barnaby Feder (2002) of the New York Times cites Barbara Mikkelson who runs www.snopes2.com when describing the term slacktivism, “”the desire people have to do something good without getting out of their chair” (Feder, 2002, para. 13).