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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Digital activism lacks real results

Veronica De La Cruz

“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” read a tweet from @ColbertReport posted March 28.

While “The Colbert Report” is widely known for its humor and jokes, this tweet still caused outrage among some of its viewers.

Soon the tag #CancelColbert was created to speak out for those who were insulted. While the hashtag has been trending with over 100,000 mentions, it’s safe to say that Comedy Central isn’t too worried about having to cancel their show.

With an apology out, the network seems to have already moved on and is simply waiting for others to do the same.

So what happens when it stops trending?

It becomes irrelevant, plain and simple.

In a similar situation, the advocacy group Invisible Children created the Kony 2012 campaign in the hopes of arresting and exposing Joseph Kony for his crimes and creating a better future for the children of Uganda.

Getting the enormous attention they wanted seemed to be the only thing Invisible Children did right. It didn’t take long before millions of people and myself discovered that in reality, the money being donated was mostly going toward advertising rather than the actual cause. Just like that, Kony became old news.

These are just a few examples to show how digital activism has grown tremendously in recent years. However, the effectiveness of these campaigns seem to be temporary in the sense that people only care about the issue when it’s being shared.

Despite the fact that trending topics do raise awareness, a view or a like doesn’t automatically cause change.

Social media users want the latest update on their news feed. Instead of wondering whether digital activism actually works, I think it’s more important for organizations to figure out if they are using this tool in the most effective way.

When organizations are making it as easy as a click to get a the largest number of average citizens involved quickly, it’s difficult to say if people are truly engaging in the attempt to make a change.


Veronica De La Cruz could be reached at [email protected] or @Veronica_dlc on Twitter

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