In April of 2014, tragedy struck when 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their dormitory by the terrorist group Boko Haram in the village of Chibok located in Northern Nigeria. Nigerians grew outraged and this horrible story began tugging on the heartstrings of the world which lead to the emergence of the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. It took less than three weeks for this hashtag to be used over one million times on various social media platforms. The First Lady at the time, Michelle Obama, also voiced her concern by sharing a selfie where she was holding a sign reading #bringourgirlsback. Sadly, the world joining hand-in-hand to bring these girls back grew unsuccessful as a majority of these girls are still missing. This post will discuss two articles that support our blog’s stance on clicktivism.
Maeve Shearlaw, writer for theguardian.com, wrote an article titled “Did the #bringbackourgirls make a difference in Nigeria?” which provided a critical analysis of how clicktivism affected this tragic story. Shearlaw defined clicktivism as “the lure of supporting a campaign perceived to be in vogue – before swiftly moving on to the next.” The article then argued that this is exactly what western supporters grew guilty of during the #bringbackourgirls campaign and that the efforts made could have been better placed to support journalists and campaigners looking to hold the Nigerian government to account. The conclusion this article presented is that while the clicktivism is beneficial, “the girls are still missing…that is the ultimate measure of success and we are not there yet.”
The second article this post will unfold was writing by the Huffington Post, titled “One Year Later, #bringbackourgirls Shows the Limits of Clicktivism.” Craig Kielburger, writer of this piece, discussed the aftermath of this clicktivism campaign one year later and sadly reported that only 57 of the 270 captured girls were able to escape. The many issues pertaining to clicktivism were discussed throughout this article. It is argued that “organizations and activists must learn it is not enough to simply launch a hashtag or video meme and hope it goes viral.”
Both of these articles, as well as our blogs stance, agree on the benefits that clicktivism can bring to a social media campaign. These articles also argue that clicktivism is simply not enough to create real world change. Social media is an extremely powerful and possibly necessary tool for connecting causes with those who support them. Achieving widespread awareness is a remarkable starting place for any campaign but online clicktivism must be backed with real world activism in order to be successful.