Archive for March, 2011


Slacktivism- defined by dictionary.com as the public proclaiming of one’s political beliefs through activities that require little effort or commitment. This lack of effort is being put to use on social media sites such as twitter, facebook and protest websites. Is this political method effective? How much effort defines little effort or commitment? What are the motives of organizations and businesses that encourage slacktivism?  How does it influence policy makers? We would like to go more into depth with these questions and more. Slacktivism leads to a lower level of participation online- the user simply has to click “like” and instantly feels better about themselves because they support.

However, there is no evidence that online participation replaces off-line activism or reinforces it. The most that slacktivism does is raise awareness about a cause or issue. Unfortunately, slacktivism for breast cancer in last October, engaged females on facebook in a campaign for breast cancer by stating their bra color in 2009 and in 2010 my friends and I received messages that said:

“This year’s game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home; for example “I like it on the couch”, “I like it on the kitchen counter”, “I like it on the dresser”. Well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status (i.e. don’t respond to this message, but put it on your status) – and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news. Let’s get the purse in as well and see how powerful we women really are!!!”

Stating where we place our handbags has nothing to do with breast cancer and did little action about this disease other than taking the focus off breast cancer and its awareness. What is the point of slacktivism other than making yourself feel good about “liking” a cause?

Links:

Facebook ‘Slactivism’ is not enough for Breast Cancer Awareness

Political Activitites on the Internet: Slactivism or Political Participation By Other Means?

Why Iran’s Green Movement Faltered: The Limits of Information Technology in a Rentier State

The Case Against Mass E-mails: Perverse Incentives and Low Quality Public Participation in U.S. Federal Rulemaking

According to dictionary.reference.com, the digital divide is the gap between people who have internet access and those who do not. However, according to Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life,“The digital divide isn’t just about personal computers; it’s about training, access, education, content, telecommunications infrastructure, and more.”

There is more to the digital divide than accessing the world-wide web- there are issues with ethnicity and racial providers, training, relevancy and resources. The definition of the digital divide leaves out the notion of e-waste, the technological waste that technology consumers generate and deposit unknowingly in China, India, Ghana and other poor countries.

As a consumer, it never crossed my mind that our technological advances were leaving behind a trail of environmental and health hazards. In the Frontline special, “Ghana: the Digital Dumping Ground,” boys collected copper and metals left behind to sell. The area they showed in the video used to be pristine wetland that is now converted to a technological wasteland dedicated to burning plastics and used computers. This is detrimental to the environment and the health of the boys, workers and people who live their lives surrounding the digital dumping ground. Exporters sending used electronics to Ghana labeled old computers as donations, which left the receivers to believe the exporters were trying to bridge the gap, which was not the case.

The digital divide fails to incorporate e-waste into its definition. As we bridge the gap of the divide, we will continue to generate more e-waste and environment and health damage that we can manage. This needs to be brought to our attention as we send XO computers to places such as the Kasiisi Primary school in Uganda. Yes, I agree that these children and populations deserve the same technology pleasures that we enjoy, but these laptops will contribute to the digital dumping ground elsewhere. The mission of this organization has the right heart and represents the large steps our world is taking to supply those without technology opportunities they have only dreamed about.

Basel Action Network, is a charitable organization in Seattle that “is the world’s only organization focused on confronting the global environmental injustice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade (toxic wastes, products and technologies) and its devastating impacts.” We need more organizations like this and a desire for awareness of e-waste before we supply ourselves and the rest of the world  more technology.

We must also keep in mind, as stated in Digital Media Ethics, “as especially the Internet and the Web dramatically increase our abilities to communicate across a global range of cultures, they thereby introduce a range of correlative ethical difficulties some of which, as affiliated with cross-cultural encounters, have been with us as long as human beings have lived together in culturally and linguistically distinct groups.”

As we bridge this gap, we must become more culturally aware and sensitive to different groups of people, especially when the richer countries of the world dump their technological waste on poorer ones. We are taking advantage of their willingness to accept our used products with no laws regulating e-waste. The definition of the digital divide needs to expand and take into consideration what its affects are globally. With this change, more awareness of its impacts will encourage recycling of e-waste or develop new organizations and groups to help regulate the disposal of used technologies.

Help prevent e-waste and look into recycling your electronics and sources of technology