Clicktivism is as easy as scrolling through Facebook News Feeds and ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ a post, retweeting something on Twitter, or reblogging something on Tumblr. It is greatly effective in raising awareness for things such as social justice issues, political unrest and illness – but is it actually beneficial?
One of the more recent examples of clicktivism is the #nomakeupselfie campaign for breast cancer awareness. While this went global, it was most effective in the UK. The campaign consisted of taking a makeup free selfie, posting it to a social media outlet and using the appropriate hashtag. In accordance with this, you text ‘BEAT’ to number provided by the UK Cancer Research, automatically donating £3. The success of this campaign was astronomical – the charity raised over £1 million in 24 hours.
However, this is a success story that cannot be told for all clicktivists. Often, clicktivism is synonymous with slacktivism rather than activism, but the line is often blurred. This reins true in the case if Ali Choudhry. Ali was a gay man who had been living in Australia with his partner for 4 years when he faced deportation to Pakistan, where he could be executed for being gay. This began a media frenzy – a petition for the immigration minister to step up received 136,000 signatures. Ali was successful, he was allowed to stay in Australia until his case was heard by the MRT– but sadly for all those clicktivists who had signed the petition, they had not played a role in Ali’s outcome. He had submitted his application to the MRT before his petition came to light. The petition was more or less a symbolic gesture.
Clicktivism has come under the hammer from many critiques, viewed as a way for people to feel as though they’ve made a difference while they sit at home on their computers and phones, fulfilling their narcissistic need to feel they’ve personally made a difference.
It is important to understand that clicktivism can lead to positive outcomes, but it needs to include online engagement that leads to an active participation. Otherwise, it can be simply self-fulfilling.