‘Social Activism’ or Slack Participation?

The way in which we interact with the media has changed dramatically. Before the internet was invented, the only media was monologic, and the only way to interact with media (such as television, radio and newspapers) was to go through a screening process by ‘gatekeepers’ – whether be publishers, government censor or mainstream media, to decide which questions/views or comments would be shared.

Internet however, is dialogic by design, and encourages people to voice their opinions and views. And hence, since the introduction of the internet, people have been more connected. And not just with media itself, but with other people from around the world with similar interests, views and passions.

The internet is fuelled by individual participation; people starting blogs, creating and commented on forums, people sharing websites and videos; the types of interactions on the internet are endless.

prosumerThis in fact, has changed the role that we play in the media, as Jay Rosen states, ‘The People Formerly Known as the Audience’ are now prosumers; as we are not only able to actively participate but have the ability to broadcast media – instantly and without ‘gatekeepers’ or a filtering system. However this isn’t always a good thing. There are many consequences of having no ‘gatekeepers’ – and that is that the veracity and quality of content can be questionable, and that there’s no filter to what a person can view online.

The power of many is also greatly evident within the internet, and helps certain issues to be shared around and brought attention to within a short period of time, something that wouldn’t have happened before the introduction of the internet. A key example of this is Kony 2012, when the world was knocked into a frenzy after watching the video on Youtube. However people started to believe they were being social activists and helping this cause by ‘liking’ a page on Facebook, or tweeting about it on Twitter. This notion is referred to as slack participation, where participation to stop issues like these becomes so easy and free that there is no real action done to find a solution. As Tory Shepherd comments, “I love Australian democracy and isn’t it wonderful that we have the choice to click on this link to make us feel better.”  But like the quote suggests, the power and connectivity that we can feel through social media websites can be phenomenal, but can social issues such as Kony 2012 really be eradicated using people power generated through social networks?


Furthermore, as well as political issues, there can be other worldwide phenomenon’s which catch on through the internet. And due to the nature of the internet, this information being posted can be about ANYTHING, no matter how weird, wacky or inappropriate.  A good example of this is Gangnam Style or other more random entertaining videos such as Taylor Swifts I Knew you were a goat parody (below) – which also proves how really anything can be posted on the internet!

Thanks for reading! Please post with your comments!


One thought on “‘Social Activism’ or Slack Participation?

  1. I agree with the point you raised that the internet has become essentially a ‘new-form’ or a new avenue of which the audience can react and interact with the media. The explanation of how the development of the internet has changed the perspective on media and use over time reinforced to me the point that you made throughout- that being the new role we play in the media. I liked how you used the metaphor of the ‘gate-keepers’ to explain that we can now interact with the media instantly and without another body or person in a position of power choosing the way they want our criticisms or views perceived by the audience. I also liked how you presented both sides of the argument, the positive of no ‘gate-keepers’ and the negative. I also liked how you highlighted the impact that the internet can have in bringing about social change and raising issues within society.

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