Is Facebook a new location for social activism?
If you are at all a frequent user of Facebook, you have probably seen a number of your friends "donate their status to ____" or join "One Million Strong Against ______." Heck, if you are one of my Facebook friends, I probably invited you to my pro-Katie Couric group. While there are obvious networking benefits for activists using Facebook, has the website taken the bite out of civil disobedience?
Back in November, I remember seeing a large number of my friends donate their status to Barack Obama. What this meant was that at a regular occurance (hourly, daily, weekly, etc), their Facebook status would refresh itself and repost the same "I donated my status to Barack Obama" message. I'll admit, I did this too. At a time when fears of VP Palin were running through my head, it was comforting to see a list of other folks also virtually crossing their fingers. It was a self-serving action and I never saw it as social activism.
However, Equality Matters wants Facebook to be used for just that. During inauguration week, Equality Matters launched "the first 'Online March for Equality.'" They asked that those interested (1) join their email list, (2) join the Facebook group, (3) invite their friends, and (4) change their profile picture to one of their badges.
While I am all for politically-energized folks using Facebook to find a community and reach out to their friends, I am a little uncomfortable with equating changing your facebook picture to a protest march. The risk associated with civil disobedience just isn't the same as sacrificing that favorite picture of you posing with a living statue downtown. This whole phenomenon just seems to feed into the idea of my generation being internet-addicted and apathetic. At a time when mythologies of today's youth being relatively depoliticized, is an e-march really helping?
So Bitch blog readers, what do you think? Are these folks e-marching in addition to taking it to the streets? Does it matter?