Online or Offline, or Both?

// Posted by on 04/08/2013 (6:37 PM)

In the past, activist movements usually took place offline and had a lack of connection to the Internet. Nowadays these movements are taking place online more and more. An interesting article I found online speaks of the blurring of online and offline movements to create a more influential and far reaching movement. Mob Lab wrote an interesting article describing the move from offline movements to a more combined approach using both offline and online tactics to help expand their ideas.

One interesting example  in the article was that of the Belgium Food Bank. The organization used likes on Facebook to help donate money to the food banks. However in addition to that they put up a live feed that would show the picture of whoever liked the page being printed and then put on a massive wall. This technique worked well because the people who liked the page actually got to see their personal picture being put up on a live video that was accessible to the whole world. This helped to entice people to see that they had a bigger impact than simply clicking a like button on Facebook.

The opportunities that the Internet provide for connecting offline movements to online movements is a giant step towards online activism. I believe that incorporating both the offline and online aspects of any organization into activist movements will help to propel the influence of movements that would otherwise not make a big impact on the global community.

One thing that organizations must avoid however is the possibility of helping to expand slactivism. Slactivism could potentially become a major problem by delegitimizing movements that have a good idea at heart but lack the actual drive and motivation that is only possible by real people doing real things, not just clicking a button and thinking you are changing the world. As organizations start to blend the offline and online aspects of their respective movements I believe that it is important to remember that we live in a physical world and not in an abstract online based community.

While the Internet has undoubtedly helped to increase global participation and awareness I believe that it is important to stick to our roots offline and use the internet as tool to advance ideas instead of the only outlet for activist movements. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how organizations choose to go about raising awareness for causes and then actually taking action towards those goals in the real world, not just the Internet.

Check out this video for more info:

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VCUQ Social Awareness said...

In a world where everything happens online, the offline activities all of a sudden seem to be less real, less cool, or less valuable.
And yet, as you seem to suggest, it is not the tool or the channel to be blamed, but the use that people make of it.
Sometimes it really feels that some activists confuse the means with the end. If we have clear what the end is, than the choice of means is going to be more effective.
In my class I teach design students to use sociology to understand better the society they live in, so they can create better “narratives” and hopefully contribute to a better world.
Maybe i could post some of their designs in this blog, so you could let me know what you think…

// 04/09/2013 at 7:31 am

Celia said...

In our talk with Matt Rho last week, it was interesting that he said many of the companies he deals with only have an online component. He traced this to the fact that Richmond is not teeming with digital/technological geniuses, which is reflected in the Richmond start-up culture. That being said, he did mention a few that existed only online – and one specifically that’s purpose was to gain those extra dollars from the average person to donate to charity. I agree with Patrick, that its important not to lose sight of where this all began and that a lot of the best ideas came from on the ground experiences, before digital culture even existed. These internet startups should have impacts on the ground too, offline.

// 04/09/2013 at 9:11 am

Anna Cecilia A01137482 said...

The Media has a very important role in societies’ perception of reality, specially in the political aspects… In Mexico thanks to social media we have achieved to get a more democratic media… Student movements such as #yosoy132 have succeeded in this.

Peña Nieto is the current Mexican president, and during his campaign his perfectly crafted image by the media was severely damaged in May 2012. The 11th of May the candidate of PRI for the presidency attended to the auditorium “José Sánchez Villaseñor” of the Universidad Iberoamericana and presented his political platform in front of hundreds of students. At the end of his speech a group of students manifested their discontent and made reference to what they considered was a terrible performance as the governor of the State of Mexico during the happenings of the Case of Atenco. The candidate answered that: “It was an action determined personally to re establish the order and peace, in the legitimate right that has the State of Mexico to make use of the public force.” (Quadratín 2012) This response caused the students to scream in discontent. Peña Nieto tried to leave the premises and ended up being surrounded by hundreds of students, leaving him and his security guards unable to get him out easily. The candidate of PRI hid in the restrooms while his security forces found a way to get him out peacefully. The day ended up being an episode of ridicule of Peña Nieto and clearly showed his unpopularity towards the university students.

By next day there were a series of press releases by Televisa, the biggest communication and media company in MExico, indicating that the students that screamed at Peña Nieto were actually students from public universities who were paid by PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) to bash his visit to Universidad Iberoamericana. Senator Arturo Escobar declared in the news Cadena Tres: “I studied at Ibero, it’s a plural university where different opinions are respected and I’m convinced that those who screamed at the end of Peña Nieto’s speech are not students from Ibero. Close groups to Andrés Manuel López Obrador were sent yesterday and were promoting and organizing this. The students from Ibero gave me this information.” (Vivas 2012) This was false information that was being released by the media. They were trying to keep Peña Nieto’s untouchable image but it did not last long. As this press releases were being distributed, a group of 131 students that were present during the happenings decided to record a video and publish it on YouTube and other social media networks. The video displayed the students one by one showing their student cards and reciting their names and student numbers proving that they were actually Ibero students are had not been paid by anyone.

The students’ video became so popular that a student political movement was created, it was named Yosoy132. Many other students from other universities joined, they all shared the discontent towards the media manipulation of information in the country to favor the candidate Peña Nieto. Among its principal objectives it: “seeks the democratization of the media communications, the creation of a third debate between presidential candidates, the rejection of the mediatic imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto as the winner of the 2012 elections, among others.” (Yosoy132 2012) This group was born to fight against the clear influence of the media in the political life in Mexico and the imposition of Peña Nieto by Televisa.

Media communication should always exist in society. It is very important in the political scenario because it helps communicate the citizens and the power. In theory it should be a tool of communication between the governors and the governed. In Mexico, instead, there is a very close relationship between the media and the political life. Mexico’s political interests have been greatly influenced by the media, companies such as Grupos Televisa have been manipulating Mexican audiences. This is possible thanks to the monopoly of this media company over 90% of the media in the country. As shown during the analysis, the role of this media communication company has been relevant for the success of the political career of Enrique Peña Nieto, whose image of invincibility was crafted by the help of Televisa. Though recently groups such as Yosoy132 have been created to fight for the democratization of the media there is still a long fight against the unethical use of the media by the politicians in Mexico.

Quadratin, . ” Reciben y despiden con abucheos a Peña Nieto de la Ibero.” Quadratin. N.p., 11 May 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. .

Vivas, María L. “Estudiantes de la Ibero a EPN: “ni acarreados ni porros”.” Proceso 14 May 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2012. .

Yosoy132. N.p., 2012. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. .

// 04/10/2013 at 8:11 pm