Cyberactivism

Cyberactivism appears to be a relatively new issue–one that arose as the internet spread to more people–and one that needs to be looked at more closely.  Cyberactivism is defined in Martha McCaughey and Michael D. Ayers’ book, Cyberactivism, as “the presence of political activism on the internet” (p. 1).  This is an interesting definition because of the words “political” and “activism” used in correlation with the “internet.”  The internet, for most, is seen as a way to connect with others through networking sites and email, a place to write down thoughts (blogs), and a place to gather research in a quick and efficient manner.  However, because people are constantly on the internet and receive a plethora of information from the internet, it makes sense that people would start to use it as a political tool to spread their agenda and ways to get involved.  In fact, many people are becoming more and more aware of this phenomenon and ways to take advantage of it.

In Cyberactivism, the authors discuss that “Cyberactivism crosses disciplines, mixes theories with practical activist approaches, and represents a broad range of online activist strategies, from online awareness campaigns to Internet-transmitted laser-projected messaging” (p. 2).  Because of the multi-tasking of the internet, it is a great way to send out information to large numbers of people.  They go on to say, “Understanding cyberactivism is important not only for scholars in cyberculture studies but also for scholars interested in activism, social transformation, and technology.  Online activism raises new questions about political organizing and social change” (p. 3).  In a way, we are all scholars of “activism, social transformation, and technology” due to the world we live in.  For example, those who have access to the internet, to mobile phones, to iPods, etc., all have an interest in technology.  Through using them, we become scholars of the various technologies’ ability to affect our lives by making them more convenient or comfortable.  Therefore, we should all be curious about the possibilities of cyberactivism and how it will change the way we view political activism in the future.

In our class discussion over cyberactivism, we discussed that cyberactivism is more of a support system for people working with political activism.  In other words, we decided that cyberactivsim was not a great way to host a campaign for something but could be used in conjunction with a campaign to help spread the word and find a larger supporting base.  Therefore, even if political activists do not accomplish their original goals, the internet helps to get the word out to more people and since the internet is a permanent source, the information is always available to those who wish to view it.  Therefore, the internet is a great support tool for those who engage in political activism and wish to spread their ideas to others.

An example that we thought was interesting was discussed in the book, Cyberactivism.  The story involves a young man who wished to purchase a NikeID that said “sweatshop” on his pair of shoes.  NikeID denied his request and he published the emails that went back and forth which showed the conversation between him and the people at NikeID.  Although it did not change the outcome, the fact that he published this for others to view on the internet made an impact on those wishing to purchase Nike shoes.  And although this might not have direct correlation to the emails, Nike did change how they treated their employees overseas (pp. 10-14).

This type of political activism is important to know and understand because as our world becomes increasingly more digital, we need to be flexible enough to engage in these types of situations and know how to respond to them.  Cyberactivism is a concept that is interesting to study and to know how people use it because it is increasingly becoming more important to how we view politics and the agendas surrounding political activities.

References:

Ayers, Michael D., and Martha McCaughey.  Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2003.  Print.

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One Response to “Cyberactivism”

  1. Lynn Lewis Says:

    Very thoughtful post — and interesting image. Sounds like you are thinking that cyberactivism functions best in conjunction with real life activism?

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