Are people really subscribed to these ideas or have they merely clicked a button? I would argue that because the digital world has made it so easy to click ‘like’ or ‘yes’ or ‘I agree’ that any emotion attached to the advocation of the article concerned is reduced to quantitative clicks rather than informed and supportive votes; advocation divorced of emotion. We fall into something I’ll refer to as “The Prisoner-condition” where we are indexed online as numbers and not people.
All varying degrees of agreeance are all distilled into one vague, homogenous and indistinguishable action: the click. There’s no rating scale associated with a click. No hidden, qualitative value attached. Just a simple, emotionless click.
A simple, emotionless click away from the illusion that you have achieved something, that something productive has come from your time. We need to believe that our actions have consequences and, when actioning online, it is sometimes difficult to see these consequences become physically manifested; this is particularly true of social media. With commercialisation of the online space there are consequences to clicks; I buy a t-shirt and it arrives in the post. But when we ‘like’ a page, our interest is merely registered rather than exacted in the real world. We simply tap our mouse or trackpad or smartphone screen and it’s all done. All the thought, power, consideration, varying stances, emotion – all simplified to that one action.
As I have previously proposed here, digital activism “could be considered easier for the supporters so does any form of true support become coloured neutral and ultimately lay void?”
Selina Schepers described this as “the power of many in the pursuit of nothing” – it’s simply about a collaborative action where participation appeals more than the actual event itself .
We need to understand that these clicks have consequences and buy making the decision to press more firmly with our index fingers we are, in fact, voting and spreading and supporting and loudening ideas which may have been far more silent without our active involvement.
Moreover, when you upload an image or idea online it takes on a life of its own. If someone photographs, for example, an advert, then posts that image online where it seen by a number of people who then pass it to more people who pass it on – an entirely alternative audience is exposed to that particular image.
Revolutionaries will utilise whatever form of technology they have access to at the time be it social media or passing notes to one another. This will, however, force governments and other opposers to revolutionary viewpoints to take action against the forms of media used in this particularly case study. They already had, for example, imposed web blackouts. However, citizens were resourcefully able to use other forms of technology such as mobile phones to ensure others became involved and helpful in their cause. It would be nearly impossible for a governmental power to cut off all forms of communication able to utilise a revolution.
Social media is a tool and is nothing without the real social networks it draws together.
The online mobilises the offline and without the online space events like the recent student protests may not have taken place with such zeal in such numbers . After all, 400,000 people don’t arrive from nowhere .
1. Schepers, Selina. 2008. “The power of many in the pursuit of nothing.” Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology 1 (1): 15-34.