A critical view of social media campaigns

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This morning, we were talking about the KONY 2012 movement, various reactions around it and how easy we share things without even looking at it. How our gut reaction is to act without even knowing what we’re acting on or reflect on what it means.

(If you want to delve deeper into the KONY 2012 topic, you can, for instance, read Kony 2012: what’s the real story?).

What we want to cover here is the greater scheme of things, social media and how people react.

When a social media campaign gains traction, and especially when it becomes widely successful, this seems to be the order of events:

  1. A lot of people Like a campaign on Facebook, share and retweet it and watch any possible video available.
  2. There’s a backlash with the people spreading the word being accused of just taking part in Slacktivism, that it won’t do any change at all and it’s just for them to have a better conscience about it.
  3. These two camps never get along, they keep on arguing – sometimes it gets ugly – and that’s it.

Thoughts on this:

Even if some of the social media attention is there to make the person passing the information on feel better, it still serves a purpose. It spreads awareness, and hopefully a number of people want to learn more about it. And this is the key thing:

We have to learn more. We have to watch what we hear with critical eyes, look at it from different perspectives, do our research and scrutinise various sources. We need to look at the positives and negatives to form an opinion as close to the actual truth as we can. We need to practice source evaluation to ascertain a source’s credibility.

Because, with social media in particular, it’s so easy to support something or spread the word, but it won’t be worth anything if you’re not entirely sure what you actually support. And the beauty of the web is also how easy it is to put in a little effort to find out more!

In the words of Bob Dylan:

“Lot of water under the bridge. Lot of other stuff too.”

Find out what really is under the bridge!

If you want to get involved, contribute in anyway, donate money – by all means, do that! But make sure you do it for the right cause, that it will have an effect and what that campaign/organization genuinely stands for.

Because we all owe that to ourselves, and, more importantly, to the people that are in desperate need of attention and help. Care as much as you can, but make sure it’s not a misguided effort without all the cards on the table.

Now please go and do something good! But do make sure, as much as you can, that it actually is good.

This article was co-written with Cecilia von Schedvin

*This article was originally published on robertnyman.com

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