Digital Activism And How It Has Influenced The People's Voice

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We face massive issues in this world at every corner of life. For resolving these issues, we require effort. Whenever such issues arise like-minded people gather up for a change. Mobilizing people and raising awareness about any particular issue is an important step in resolving of that issue. Such congregation and creation of groups are vital for any kind of change. As with new technologies, it is getting easier than ever before to be part of such groups, fighting for a certain cause or for a change.

Tools like Facebook, Instagram, twitter and many other social media platforms provide a space for people who want to join in a specific group. As these platforms are already according to our likes and dislikes it is much easier to find people of the similar interests. Before these technologies whenever people wanted to fight against some power, or mobilize against the oppressor it was much harder to raise their voice as gathering and spreading awareness for was much difficult.

Although the word digital activism is not agreed upon by everyone most of the valid sources use this term. Digital activism is a use of any sort of technology to reach a certain goal. These goals are mostly related to politics. When a country runs on true Democratic system its people, hold the power to change certain things. These are the countries where activism is widely successful.

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Internet is just like a microphone in rallies but with a much greater reach. It amplifies things. If we want to push a box in a certain direction with the force of hundreds of people. The thing, which is most important, is that all the people making an effort to move that box know when and in which direction to push the box. This coordination is the main element of digital activism. It is much easier to be part of movements. Instead of using leaflets for awareness, we can just click a share button to send the message to millions of people. Digital world provides a space for such collaborations to happen.

Nowadays if we want to join any type of group, we can go online and find groups of our interest. There is a site for every issue and cause. Digital activism is not only for a political goal. Sometimes it is to raise awareness or for donations. There is a popular site “Go fund me” where people can donate easily. Sites similar to these make it smoother and easier for people to help. They not only evoke our emotions only but also provide us with a way to help. Making it easier for people to be part of the change is an effective way for congregation.

During the last quarter of 2019, a campaign by the name of “team trees” launched to plant trees was successful in collecting funds for planting 20 million trees. All by using internet. Many influencers came forward to amplify the message and spread awareness. This shows how effectively we can use the internet for such causes and awareness.

Emotions are considered for any cause or change. Sometimes there is more focus on just evoking of emotions rather than giving attention to convenience and providing of a channel to help. For an effective change, there is a concept in psychology of channel factors. These factors are not very prominent but they control how we behave or react in a specific situation. In the absence of a proper channel factor subjects would keep on suffering in a specific situation. Social media can be used to highlight these channel factors. Channel factors are mostly related to changing of the context. Minimal effort is the most important channel factor. If we want majority of people to come forward for a specific thing or do a certain task we must consider minimal effort.

One of the biggest problems with digital activism is that it only evokes our emotions for a short period of time and instead of an effort to change it or work for it we go back to our daily life busy routines. Spreading of awareness is not enough. Starting a hashtag without any focus on channel factor is not enough. For example, these days in Pakistan we are getting more and more conscious about our environment. However, it is not in practical position. Hashtags circulate and people criticize use of plastic bags and that is it. In this, we need to work on channel factors. It is not at all easy for people to buy paper bags. Activism for awareness, donation must consider convenience for subjects that take part in it.

In Pakistan, even after putting on the sign and warnings for traffic on the roads, rate of traffic violation did not decline. Putting up ads on newspapers and TV did not work as well. When electronic challan system introduced, it drastically changed the traffic violations.   

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