From Slacktivism to Activism: Can blogs be relevant?

By: Andrew S
August 15, 2012

I often hear people juxtapose their “online” activity with what they do “in real life.” Recently, I’ve begun pointing out that the opposite of online isn’t “real life,” but “offline“…our online worlds, I argue, are very much a part of our “real” worlds — our online identities are part of our prism of identities.Online Identity

I don’t think that many folks are convinced. And with what we tend to do online, I can see one reason why people wouldn’t think of their online activity as “real.”

Even in our (mostly) pleasant Mormon blogging world, every so often, someone like Steve Evans will point out what seems to be so often forgotten: the Bloggernacle will not save you. And as Steve alludes throughout the post, one reason that the Bloggernacle will not save you is because only real-world relationships will — and of course, the Bloggernacle isn’t the “real-world.”

I am trying (but not really doing that well) to have conversations on why different contingencies of the Mormon universe seem reluctant to talk to one another. The orthodox, faithful believers of the Nothing Wavering aggregator and elsewhere tend to eschew — sometimes very pointedly — association online with those they believe to be too critical of the church.

I have heard that the reason they avoid spaces they believe are too critical is because they don’t want to always have to hash out the foundation of their faith. They want to discuss from Square Two: given faith in Mormon truth claims, where do we go from here?

An issue that has intrigued me, however, is the idea that some faithful folks don’t participate in blogs like these because they find it frivolous. When we talk about controversial issues, what are we doing? How are we helping anyone? The contention is not just that one can’t argue his way to faith (which would be because faith is categorically different, not because faith has no arguments in favor of it), but that such argument distracts from the real elements of faith: service, action, and dare-I-say: activism. To quote from our very own co-blogger Bonnie:

The fact is, Andrew, the Bloggernacle doesn’t represent the active church. There. I’ve said it. It’s a very small subsection of people. Most of the people I know and work with IRL do not have a clue about what goes on in the ‘nacle. They aren’t idiots, or ostriches, they simply don’t explore their questions this way. This is not a good statistical sample.

And the gospel cannot be understood without living it. That’s what I mean by reductionist. You can’t debate yourself to God or to faith or to understanding. You are talking apples and oranges with someone who is doing the Alma 32 experiment. And there is reason that Alma did not waste any time with the rameumptomites; they were not humble.

The Active Church?

There are two ways one could take the first line I quoted from Bonnie. Perhaps the bloggernacle doesn’t represent the active church because it is not comprised of people who are active. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would assert something like that.

However, I think Bonnie is saying that even if the Bloggernacle is mostly comprised of active members, it cannot represent the active church because its participants are in other ways unrepresentative of that active church. And on this point, I agree — and I also think that is why Steve writes that the Bloggernacle will not save you.

While I have argued in the past that those people who go to church represent a minority of those people who are Mormon, the fact is that those of us who identify as Mormon in some way, shape, or fashion, and who talk about it on the internet are certainly a minority. While we — those who are unorthodox, uncorrelated, disaffected, post, liberal, or otherwise — may make the case that we have numerical strength within the church (e.g., “everyone is cafeteria Mormon”)…our process of discussing issues and debating points (especially in online venues) is certainly not any sort of statistical norm.

I am reminded of a Deseret News post informing journalists of whom they really should be talking to for information on Mormonism:

“Drop by, sit at the back and observe, or sit at the front if you wish,” Otterson writes. “You won’t have to do anything — no kneeling, no recitations, no collection plates. But feel free to talk to the members. Ask them about the responsibilities they hold. Talk to the teenagers. Attend the classes after the main worship service.”

Otterson quotes Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen, who recently told a group of prominent journalists: “If you want to understand Mormonism, you have to understand the ward.”

“Writing or reporting about Mormons from a desk and a keyboard without a field trip to a Mormon ward is like covering Congress from Kalamazoo,” Otterson writes. “You have to be there. You have to feel the pulse. You have to understand the perspectives, the nuances, the motivation deeply rooted in belief. Then you’ll be better able to explain what makes Mormons tick so enthusiastically.”

On many of the online venues I visited, there was an outcry that Otterson was trying to de-emphasize the internet because on the internet, he can’t control the message. (To be honest, in any given ward, he can’t control the message completely either — which is why I suggested that journalists attend LDS church on fast-and-testimony meetings and see what people say then.) But the point is that the online meta-conversation is in some ways to far disconnected from the lived experience.

I personally agree with Matt that the church should embrace non-official LDS voices who are speaking up (and yes, it’s often on the internet) in non-official capacities about Mormonism. Joanna Brooks’ story is not exactly the story you would get “on a field trip to a Mormon ward,” but Brooks is considerably more able to cross the divide between Mormon and non-Mormon publics than most folks are able too (and that’s probably why Jon Stewart had her on the Daily Show rather than Michael Otterson.)

Jon Stewart and Joanna Brooks

…but then again, Joanna Brooks is not just an internet slacktivist.

Slacktivism and Activism

Part of the reason why I write this post is because of several conversations I had with people and several things I heard at Sunstone.

Firstly, I will point out that I think that my attending Sunstone already shows that the online and offline worlds are linked — the reason I attended Sunstone was because a friend I knew online set up Sunstone panels from online and I was roped into the irresistible opportunity to meet all of the folks whom I had to that point only conversed with online.

Sunstone for me pointed out that the internet is a great gateway to offline, face-to-face interaction, if we will only engage. So, in some ways, it is not surprising that Mormon Stories (an online podcast) has led to local communities of support and live Mormon Stories conference (offline interactions). Various Mormon blogs have in-person get-togethers, bloggersnackers, meet-and-greets, and the like.

But more importantly, several conversations got me thinking about action and activism.

I think, in some cases, we blog fully wanting it to be safe. Fully knowing that there’s no accidental way for it to escalate into something more time-consuming. Main Street Plaza’s chanson has quipped that she does a lot of her Mormon-interest blogging precisely because it’s less stress than addressing real world problems.

After the Sunstone panel for which I was part (“Do Good Online Fences Make Good LDS Neighbors?“), several folks questioned why we spent so much time talking about J. Max Wilson. Is he important? Is Nothing Wavering important? Is the Bloggernacle important?

Each of these criticisms was tied to something of real-world import. Chanson juxtaposes blogging about Mormon issues with environmentalism, which should clearly have different levels of import to people. Chino Blanco (one person critical of the emphasis on Bloggernacle and J. Max alike) wrote extensively in the buildup to Prop 8, and even today, many of his comments about blogging are framed in reaction to seeing various Mormon blogging groups (such as many of the bloggernacle blogs) do little to nothing in opposition to that proposition.

When I say that Joanna Brooks is not just an internet slacktivist, what I’m saying is that, in contrast to the navelgazers in the blogging world, she plays in public, and generally on controversial issues. I wrote previously in “Mormon People vs. Mormon Church” about liberal and progressive members of the church publicly asserting a different narrative…and I think that Joanna could easily fit in too. The question isn’t whether liberal Mormons like Joanna Brooks are doing anything, but whether what they are doing is actually helping people within the church or doing them harm.

And the thing is…we could be theoretically doing the same.

Occupy Zarahemla?

Samuel the Lamanite Preaching in Zarahemla

For full disclosure, I actually didn’t attend the Sunstone session of this title (featuring many of the same session hosts)…Rather, I followed my friend Jon (who is practically an emeritus blogger at USU Reason’s blog) to the session Confronting Romney In the Streets: Grassroots Resistance to Capitalism and the Mormon 1%, as was hosted by Joshua Madson, Tristan Call, and Ashley Sanders (of whom, the only fragments I have left of her blog, Project Deseret, are articles on my blog referencing hers, and the Wayback Machine…so I guess she counts as emeritus blogger at her own blog!)

Let me just throw out the abstract for that session:

As US progressives, anarchists, pacifists, queers, feminists, immigrants, and other agitators challenge US empire alongside a revitalized global justice movement, radical Mormons face the challenges and opportunities of pioneering a distinctively Mormon resistance. In this session, we’ll discuss the many kinds of direct action that challenge empire: artwork, riots, dance, strikes, fasting, sabotage, and prayer. We’ll discuss the history and theory of mass mobilizations, the theology of collective redemption that inspires Mormons to challenge imperialism through shared faith, and upcoming plans to defy Romney’s war/austerity agenda.

That was a mouthful. But here’s the thing — the abstract to the session makes it sound a whole lot more academic than it actually was. In actuality, while there was a little bit of background information, the session didn’t provide much background at all…rather, most of the session was brainstorming. What can we do…perhaps right after Sunstone to act in distinctly Mormon, yet nevertheless progressive or anti-imperialist or (insert cause here) ways?

I will be the first person to state that I’m not that politically engaged of a person. I like the safety of the blogging world, and I like to make my topics frivolous and academic. So, the session really made me think things a bit differently, because now, I was thinking about action. And, in particular, how we can take the kinds of perspective that drive us to go online — since the reason we’re ultimately here is because there is something about us that is not sated each Sunday in church — back into the pews.

Throughout the brainstorming session, I wasn’t quite sure what sorts of “actions” would make a “distinctively Mormon resistance.” But over the session, I had a few such ideas:

  • What drives us online is the idea that we cannot discuss our perspectives in church. We feel silenced. But this silencing and marginalization is a self-fulfilling prophecy — as fewer liberal/unorthodox/progressive/uncorrelated/disaffected/questioning members speak out with their perspectives, the less we will be aware that other such members exist in our ward. So, one solution is simple: we simply have to speak out.
  • Nevertheless, I’m aware that speaking out can seem obnoxious. Like the expression, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” we need to build a sort of credibility or rapport. Stephen’s posts on being heard and on becoming a small-p prophet present best practices (but certainly not the only approaches) for gaining the entry-way credibility. In this case, service is the game. The thing is that service is something pretty much everyone agrees on — so why can’t liberal/progressive folks who are involved in politically agreeable causes (e.g., volunteering to help the poor is something that people on all parts of the political map) engage their fellow ward members on these tasks?
  • To take a page out of the apologist’s book, why can’t there be a central repository where different issues of faith are addressed from a liberal/progressive point of view. The thing I got from the session is that Ashley, Tristan, Joshua, etc., are very comfortable aligning their politics with their religion, and many of the people in the group employed scriptures to their suggestions for organization. But on the average Sunday, will every liberal/progressive/uncorrelated/unorthodox Mormon have an awareness of these understandings of scriptures to offer in Sunday School? Apologist groups like FAIR grew from encounters in hostile environments where the same questions would be lobbed over and over…liberal and progressive Mormons face a similar situation in their own ward environments.

These are just a few suggestions that I was able to come up with. And I’m not that politically engaged at all.

What is the value of a blog?

One thing that the session did was make me start to reconsider what I’m doing with blogging. I am not opposing imperialism or helping to solve injustice. Heck, I’m not even helping members to better thrive within the church (or, on the flip side, helping struggling members out.)

In this way, I sympathize with my friend Jon: after the session, he noted to me that he found the entire session extremely depressing.

“But why?” I asked. What came to my mind was the guy who used the session as a way to pass out his By Common Consent fliers (not the blog); it had reminded me of what I had always heard of liberal political efforts.

But Jon replied differently. He replied that while Ashley and Tristan and Joshua had so much motivation and enthusiasm for activism, he didn’t feel motivated like that at all. While he wanted to be moved, and he liked a lot of what they were saying (the guy drives a Prius and was considering getting an equality sticker for it…I believe he settled with a “Drill Baby Drill” sticker for ironic purposes instead)…he wasn’t.

In some ways, I feel the same way. But since I am already writing, can’t I at least reconsider to what end I write? What am I trying to accomplish?

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16 Responses to From Slacktivism to Activism: Can blogs be relevant?

  1. [...] I finally published a post that I’ve sat on for at least two weeks at Wheat & Tares — From Slacktivism to Activism: Can Blogs Be Relevant? [...]

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  2. Mike S on August 15, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Thanks for the post – I enjoyed reading it. It is something I’ve thought about a lot recently – what is the point of writing here and participating in the Bloggernacle. Is it truly as you quote:

    The fact is, Andrew, the Bloggernacle doesn’t represent the active church. There. I’ve said it. It’s a very small subsection of people.

    The actuality is that the “active church” is actually ALSO a very small subsection of people. Of the 14 million members of record, there are probably 4-5 million active members. And there are likely around 1 million “active, TR-holding, fully-engaged” members. So, in reality, the “active members” are around 7% of members – or also a small subsection of Mormons.

    The difference is that this 7% group controls the official discussion of what it means to be “Mormon”. It may not be explicit, but there is great pressure to conform. There is great pressure to look a certain way, to answer questions a certain way, to fit the “Mormon” mold. I certainly accept the role for sites like “Nothing Wavering”, but for me it is not a whole lot different from what is already present on Sunday, in manuals, in official magazines, etc. It presents the same official image rehashed.

    But there is a role for the 93% majority that is non-existent in the official church. And, in reality, I would bet that a majority of the 7% ALSO have major issues with thing, but are too afraid of actually saying anything. This is where I see the role of the Bloggernacle.

    Example. My most popular post I have written for Wheat and Tares is the one on garments. In addition to comments on the post, I have received off-line feedback like the following:

    I loved the ‘If I were In Charge’ series. You don’t know how much
    it helped my wife when she read your article about making garment wearing easier. She does not read any blogs, but I showed her your
    article she felt a burden being lifted from her.

    You see, she thought she was all alone with this ‘burden’ and the only one with issues with wearing garments. I mean, who could she talk to? Why was it so hard and what’s the true reasoning behind it? The Stake
    Presidency didn’t know and could not understand why she was so upset about it. To know that she was not alone and that others have struggled and thought this through really helped her. She still struggles over it, but she knows she’s not alone.

    There is a silent majority out there who struggle with things they can’t talk about at church – even in the 7% minority. While they may not all be participating in the Bloggernacle, it is for people like this that it exists.

    So I think there’s a role.

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  3. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 15, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    You know, right now the only group that is preserving the progressive heritage of the Church was FARMS and only because of Nibley.

    Starting a FARMS like repository for the progressive history of the Church would be a worthwhile effort.

    As are acts of true service. When my daughter Jessica was young, we started preparing and serving a meal for about 70 or do once a month at a local homeless shelter. When she died we just could not face going back.

    But, the ward relief society liked the idea and picked up a night of their own. Just to serve. No missionary work, no self aggrandizement, just service.

    That is the type of thing it is hard to do online.

    But when people serve together great things happen.

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  4. Bonnie on August 15, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Finally able to have 5 minutes online from my offline life ;) and I checked in to find your intriguing talking-through. Wish I could have been more available online today to chat about it.

    That’s the point I was originally making. My offline life is the one that has the potential to change me most. Today I worked on a landscape, checked in with my oldest daughter and her two daughters, made a big lunch for my family, cracked the whip on chores for the teens who are far too tempted to lie around during the summer watching Psych, and then checked in with a friend whom I’ve been tag-team caring for for the past 3 months. My life is about relationships. I think while I work. Navel-gazing is entertaining, and I do choose to do that rather than watch TV (although I’ve watched 3 Psych episodes this week to spend time with my 15yo), but it’s narrowing. It focuses far too much of my thinking and living on my own observations and thoughts. It’s like breathing my own exhaust.

    Once could make the case (and I have before) that we meet people online we would never meet in our small circles of influence, and I think it’s true. But we don’t meet the whole them. And we don’t really do anything to help them. We may offer a bit of encouragement at a crucial time, but it isn’t the same as sitting across from someone who knows us and trusts us and offering them something then. I believe there is divine method in our placement in life, so that we can help one another and be helped by each other so that we don’t feel alone. Ideally, we are safety nets for one another, entwined together in associations that ensure that we do not grind on each other’s faces, to tweak a scriptural reference. So I can make the case that online connections are one way we can connect, and they can do the good they can do. But ultimately, our dog probably has more influence over us than an online connection. That’s the reality of … reality.

    I wholeheartedly agree that service is the way to develop the credibility (what I’m calling a relationship) with people that allows us to hear and be heard, to take our thoughts to the level of activism. I’m a little less comfortable calling it activism, because that connotes that we want to force an awareness that we have on others, but if we’re simply talking about connecting our voices with others, sharing our experiences, then I think you’ve hit on the perfect way to connect.

    I’m really curious, though, how many disaffected people you know who are like you? I get the sense that you genuinely want to understand more orthodox Mormons, that you want to engage in a conversation about something that you feel marginalized by, but that you aren’t overtly trying to do anything but make a place for yourself in the culture (i.e. you don’t seem to want to make me be a different kind of orthodox Mormon.) As an, for want of a better word – and I don’t care for any labels, orthodox Mormon, I don’t get the sense that most activists are on learning missions. I get the sense that they want to alter the structure to fit their paradigms and they’re irritated that the structure won’t alter. I find you unique among unorthodox Mormons. Am I wrong?

    Finally, I am, if I ever get enough time at the computer, in the process of writing a post about all religion being local that I think may address some of the concerns both you and people who are responding to Neylan’s FAIR presentation are bringing forward. While what happens online is real, I just don’t think it’s complete.

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  5. Howard on August 15, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    The institution of the church is totally reactive. This is how OD1, OD2 and the Family Proclamation came about. What other significant modern revelation do we have?
    If you complain at the ward level it might make it to the stake level but it is highly unlikely to go higher and you may be in trouble. So until there is a chorus of activism at your ward little will happen above. But like Mexicans taking over California you can occupy your ward if you have enough activists. In order to change the institution, activism and criticism must come from without like the Civil Rights Movement. The secular enlightenment of Christlike equality for all will eventually embarrass and overcome the orthodox status quo loving brethren’s bias driving them once again to their knees in search of divine relief and…voila! OD3.

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  6. Mormon Heretic on August 15, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    Andrew, I really enjoyed the post. Like you, I’m not much of an activist either, but I really admire activists. I’m probably more of a slacktivist. Even if the bloggernacle is a small minority, I think it can really help people that fit within the small minority. I know that I feel like I get a lot of satisfaction from my conversations here, and I find these interactions much more satisfying than anything I have at church. I also feel that my views have moderated a bit faster than they would have if I stayed solely in the offline world. I don’t comment on every post, but I read all of them here at W&T, and my views have definitely moderated. So, I can’t say that online interactions are meaningless–I think they are quite profound, even if they have no power to save us.

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  7. Andrew S on August 16, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    Thanks, everyone, for the comments…it was a long day of work, but now I can read from everyone:

    re 2)

    Mike,

    I guess one strength of the bloggernacle is that it is global…it has the potential to reach anyone with access to the internet…still, I think that it would often be more momentous to speak out in our wards…precisely because, as you point out, the pressure is against speaking out.

    re 3

    Stephen,

    In addition to progressive history, I feel like faithful, progressive Mormons need to do a good job of developing a constructive progressive Mormonism…in other words, the collection of scriptures and interpretations of lessons and talks that round up the authentically Mormon — yet authentically progressive — values.

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  8. Andrew S on August 16, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    re 4,

    Bonnie,

    While I see a lot to what you’re saying (especially focusing on your third paragraph)…I don’t think it’s necessarily true that we meet “the whole them” in offline contexts. We meet different forms of people online and offline (which is why I find it interesting to interact with people in different venues after having primarily interacted with them in another venue — even becoming FB friends with someone after having primarily interacted with them via blogging is fascinating.)

    I mean, let’s think about blogs like this. These blogs exist precisely because people don’t feel comfortable revealing that part of “the whole them” in offline venues and because the people we do know in our offline venues, rather than being the safety nets, are the ones who often cause us to feel alone, and who cause us to require safety nets.

    I’m a little less comfortable calling it activism, because that connotes that we want to force an awareness that we have on others, but if we’re simply talking about connecting our voices with others, sharing our experiences, then I think you’ve hit on the perfect way to connect.

    In some ways, I have similar reservations about the term “networking.” Stated in those terms, it sounds so…artificial. At the same time, I dunno…

    I’m really curious, though, how many disaffected people you know who are like you? I get the sense that you genuinely want to understand more orthodox Mormons, that you want to engage in a conversation about something that you feel marginalized by, but that you aren’t overtly trying to do anything but make a place for yourself in the culture (i.e. you don’t seem to want to make me be a different kind of orthodox Mormon.) As an, for want of a better word – and I don’t care for any labels, orthodox Mormon, I don’t get the sense that most activists are on learning missions. I get the sense that they want to alter the structure to fit their paradigms and they’re irritated that the structure won’t alter. I find you unique among unorthodox Mormons. Am I wrong?

    Considering I spent much of my day trying to defend various theses from this post from people who weren’t buying it (e.g., that the orthodox care more about actions and service rather than assenting to some cerebral, intellectual proposition)…I sometimes doubt whether there are too many disaffected folks like me. I guess it drills down to a difference in experience and upbringing and whatnot.

    But without commenting on my goals (because I don’t even know them…I don’t think…), I would say that what I see is so many people being ineffective…and I just think that if they could change one thing…then they might be a little more effective. So, I also don’t get the sense that most activists are on learning missions, but IMO, to be an activist, you have to learn. You have to, at the very least, do “recon”.

    Finally, I am, if I ever get enough time at the computer, in the process of writing a post about all religion being local that I think may address some of the concerns both you and people who are responding to Neylan’s FAIR presentation are bringing forward. While what happens online is real, I just don’t think it’s complete.

    There have been some developments in the gay Mormon sphere recently that really highlight the locality of religion. But in any case, to respond to your last line, I would say: so, I would agree that online is not complete…then how can we bridge between online and offline? I think the bigger issue still tends to be that online caters to particular types of personalities (more “cerebral” folks…who discuss, debate, hash out issues, etc.,)

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  9. Andrew S on August 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    re 5,

    Howard,

    This is probably the subject of another post I should write at Main Street Plaza…but OK, if we concede that it’s not a sure thing that change can come from within…then we still have to ask: what are we DOING to create the outside movements that will pressure the church from without? What does our blogging do in support of offline causes?

    re 6,

    mh,

    So, not to pick on your comment, but I just want to point something out…you say that because of the site, your views have moderated…but what about your actions? Now, you said you aren’t really an activist, so OK< but do posts at least give you a framework for how you *might* change (regardless of if you don’t implement those ideas?

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  10. Natsy on August 16, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    I found the LDS blogging world because, incidently, I was looking for information about garments, and Mike’s post was one of the first ones I saw. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to read something like that.

    That was several months ago and since then I still come and read most everything posted on W&T and several other blogs. It has changed me. It gave me a whole new spin on life and lifted my heart from the hellish pit of broken faith that it was floundering in. I all the sudden felt comfortable in my own skin and that all came from the bloggernacle.

    Andrew – you were asking MH about moderation. For me, my views have moderated as well as my actions. The blogs exposed me to all sorts of open-minded people that I hadn’t encoutered in real life. It challenged me to think about what I really believed. It’s changed me. I feel more confident speaking about my views and sharing them with people. I’ve shocked a lot of my close friends but they listen to me because they love me and I feel like we all grow a little more open-minded.

    Thanks for this post and all the others of yours that I’ve read but not commented on. I’m grateful there are people like you willing to start these conversations online.

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  11. hawkgrrrl on August 16, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    Bednar did a talk a while back to the youth that talked about “what is real.” In this talk, he decried virtual environments and perhaps by extension online relationships and communities. If he’s talking about having sex on the Sims or running down hookers in Grand Theft Auto, I tend to agree. Even fantasy RPGs like Zelda probably are worth a note of caution because fictional interactive scenarios are no substitute for actual social interaction.

    But if we’re talking about online communities, these are “real” people, and real lives can be touched. We can and do render service to one another. It’s one reason Mormon Heretic and I are still hanging around at StayLDS. We know that people need to talk to those who can reassure, who’ve “been there, done that.” I would disagree to some extent that the bloggernacle won’t save you but real life local wards will. I guess I would say neither one will. But relationships exist and help or hinder us whether they are IRL or virtual. IRL relationships can also make authenticity difficult, particularly in a religious environment. I think that’s another reason we enjoy these online communities.

    Lastly, on the point of activism, that’s where I fall flat too. I like interacting with people, giving advice, sharing ideas. But I’m probably not going to stand between someone and the baby seal they are clubbing. I’m definitely more of a slacktivist.

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  12. Andrew S on August 17, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    re 10

    Natsy,

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I am actually very gladdened to hear that blogs are encouraging people to change their behavior too.

    re 11

    hawkgrrrl,

    I’m manually avoiding the comment to say something about your use of the terms “IRL” and “virtual” — other than this comment here.

    As to your last paragraph though…I’m not saying that we need to strive to save baby seals…even interacting with people, giving advice, sharing ideas can be activism, IMO, in spaces where people traditionally do not interact, give advice, or share ideas. I think that this blog project — of trying to bring diverse groups of people together, is an exercise in a kind of activism…I just think that we could probably do a better job of trying to bring that to the offline world.

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  13. Jake on August 17, 2012 at 6:00 AM

    Andrew you seem to imply that blogging isn’t a form of activism. It may not be as tangible as marching on a street but it is still a form of action. Every speech is also an action and it also encourages action.

    On a basic level a blog encourages others to the action of reading it. It may also encourage them to action in evaluating their own beliefs, ideas and opinions. Which in turn changes the way they act and behave.

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  14. Andrew S. on August 17, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    re 13,

    Jake,

    I think blogs can be activism. I mean, from the Sunstone presentation, one thing that I definitely did notice was that one of the categories they had was about writing…

    However, I think the question would be: what actions are we encouraging? I am purposefully excluding “evaluating…beliefs, ideas, and opinions” here, because I think that is the cerebral/intellectual stuff that most folks don’t identify with.

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  15. Jake on August 17, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    I would say that we are encouraging people to at least consider other views and opinions different from their own. They may not explicitly say that they are doing that and not identify with doing that, nevertheless that is what they are doing.

    On the other hand maybe people are reading blogs to try and gain arguments to support conclusions they have already developed. In which case we are encouraging people to become more entrenched in their beliefs.

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  16. Andrew S on August 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    re 15,

    Jake,

    But the entire point that I’m trying to talk about with this article is that we focus on beliefs TOO MUCH. I don’t really care what people believe…just what they DO.

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