Online Activism is popular way to spread the word about a cause or issue. The speed of the internet and how fast people communicate with each other makes spreading the word about an issue easy and efficient. People will initiate the cause by posting a video or picture post that triggers people to look into it more and try to find some background information. From Jenkins’ chapter, “the hope is that such provocative videos will encourage greater information seeking, inspiring those who encounter them to follow links back and to drill deeper into the content-rich sites that these activist groups have constructed around them.” This refers to the Bil’in protesters who painted themselves blue in reference to the characters from the movie Avatar. They did this because they believed they were fighting the same conflict as the movie. Their cause spread far and wide reaching all kinds because of the social currency at the time of the Avatar movie. It was big in pop culture at the time and the use of relevant pop culture is a good way to reach all kinds of people. Sometimes it’s hard to have your cause reach everyone because of the issues it addresses. The Bil’in example was about humanitarianism and people’s rights and these issues routinely hit the eyes and ears of most people on the internet.
However, there are issues that only a certain group of people have an interest in such as saving Bristol Bay. There is a proposed open pit mine, one of the largest in the world, to be constructed In Alaska by the headwaters of two of the largest rivers that feed Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay is one of the largest sockeye and king salmon fisheries in the world, and a mine at it’s source would put the entire fishery in danger. Everyone that relied on this fishery for a living or recreation started opposing it hard. Online petitions started showing up on fishing forums and blogs and conservation groups started lobbying against it.
This all started back in the mid 2000s and eventually the mine got put on hold after one of the major North American partners dropped out due to all the negative reaction to it. The project didn’t die however and new partners are being sought after. The project is basically in hibernation and an article from Midcurrent, an independent provider of fly fishing news, literature and advice, advises to still be aware of the dangers that it could still happen.
Before the internet, there is a strong possibility that this mine would have been built, since it would be located in a far off location that few Americans would be aware that it existed. With the internet, word spread and people became aware and they decided they didn’t want a large mine threatening wild waters with toxins and pollutants. This was all done through people sharing videos, stories and information of the bay, and having people donate and sign petitions.
Bristol Bay is just one example of internet activism making a difference. Have you been a part of an activism that other people might not be aware of? Is there anything you’ve read about or experienced that could have been made better if people had just been made aware of the issue?