Talking with Steve Paikin about “slacktivism”

There’s been a lot of debate lately about the value of joining a Facebook group as a form of protest, and whether that just constitutes digital “slacktivism,” particularly in the context of the Facebook group opposing the proroguing of Parliament (if you don’t have any idea what that is or why you might care, there’s a brief overview here).

I recently talked to Steve Paikin, host of The Agenda on TVO, about whether Facebook activism matters or not in the larger scheme of things, and whether it would translate into real action (as it turned out, it did — last weekend, after the show was taped, more than 25,000 people across the country showed up to protest). The video is embedded in this post, and is also available on YouTube and at the TVO site.

On the subject of Facebook’s validity as a grassroots political tool, I tried to point out to Steve (as my friend David Eaves did in his piece for the Globe), that a Facebook group membership is something that deserves to be paid attention to, and that in fact joining such a group arguably means more than a petition, since membership in a group is a public act.

In addition to Facebook, Steve and I also talked about the success of the “text money to Haiti” campaign, and how the volume of people doing that — more than $25-million has been raised by the Red Cross in the U.S. alone through texting — says a lot about the positive side of digital activism. We also talked about the value of Twitter in the context of a disaster like Haiti, when it acted as a real-life newswire of on-the-ground sources.

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