David Karpf discusses the shift in activism from the second generation (1970s to early 2000s) to the third generation (2000-present) in The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy. During the second generation, it was common for citizens to take part in armchair activism, meaning they would donate financially by mailing in checks and not having to leave their “armchair,” compared to the previous generation of having to attend town hall meetings and having to hold elected office. Another shift occurred in the millennium during the Internet boom, where clicktivism came into play. Citizens could now be notified via email about social and political issues, sign e-petitions and donate to a cause all behind a computer screen. While this was a new and exciting concept at the time, nowadays any promotional email is usually sent straight to our junk folder. We are constantly bombarded with social media posts and trending hashtags advocating a cause or political party that brings me to the question, do digital campaigns actually work? Is sharing or liking online content actually going to promote change? Personally, I do not think it directly promotes change however I believe it does bring many issues to light that would normally be ignored, influencing the public’s political votes. If a politician were to discuss his or her stance on certain “trending” topics, voters would be more likely to recognize the issue and let their position on those topics reflect via voting. All of these trending advocacy issues grab our attention for a minute before drifting into a sea of the other hundreds of issues. Clicktivisim has its limits outside the digital world, out of the millions of people who have read and shared an article about human rights violation in a foreign country, how many are actually leaving the comfort of their home to fight frontline for the cause? My guess is not many. The best that same article could do is influence the votes inferior of political campaign that address those same issues.
Karpf, David. The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.