#CancelColbert: It’s not all bad

#Cancelcolbert was an internet campaign started by a woman named Suey Park in retaliation for a tweet sent out by the twitter account The Colbert Report.  The tweet sent out that cause such backlash said:

“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

Many people associate this online campaign with the negative aspects of clicktivism.  Sadly, a lot of the time this campaign is discussed many people choose not to write about the benefits clicktivism can have on a campaign or organization.  The hashtag #cancelcolbert quickly became a top trending topic across the United States.  Colbert’s response to the tweet was that the twitter account that tweeted this controversial tweet was not affiliated with him or his television show, it was an account run by Comedy Central.  This online activism created a large amount of negative publicity for Mr. Colbert regardless of the fact he had nothing to do with the wrong-doing.

In an article from newrepublic.com titled Why Won’g Twitter forgive Suey Park, a narrative is created around clicktivism that only exaggerates the negatives of clicktivism.  Again, Suey Park started #cancelcolbert our blog does not argue that clicktivism is enough to create social change but we acknowledge the benefits it can have.  This article argues that clicktivism campaigns do more harm than good with very little good usually occurring at all.  It focuses on the idea of clicktivism spreading false messages in online campaigns and how that can affect its reader.

Although we agree that online activism is not enough to create real world change we don’t agree with how these articles surrounding #cancelcolbert frame the action of clicktivism.  It is important to recognize the benefit of easily being able to share a message online with millions of people in this world with the click of a button.


Do we want awareness or change?

In the news website the Debrief, there is an article named “How Clicktivism Really Can Help #BringOuGirlsBack”. Sophia Wilkinson, contributing editor, looks at how clicktivism through hashtags can change things.

One of the arguments Wilkinson makes is that celebrities posting pictures supporting campaigns is beneficial to creating a change. While I agree with her point that it becomes a viral talking topic, I don’t agree that a simple picture can bring about change.

wk 3.jpg
Michelle Obama, former First Lady, uploaded a selfie of her holding the hashtag to social media to support the online campaign.

The common people look to our leaders, celebrities, and influencers to actually make a visible change because those are the people in power. In these cases we should be utilizing all of our available resources to the full extent. Yes, celebrities and leaders fall under the category of resources because they have the ability (and resources) to do something about it. The average citizen is using hashtags because they don’t have the same power as leaders and celebrities. While I think even the average citizen can do more than a hashtag, I definitely do not agree that a celebrity posting a picture is enough to support such a movement or make a difference when they can do much more.

The second argument that Wilkinson makes is that even if someone with a prominent name just wants to jump the bandwagon and say something for publicity, it would be beneficial. I understand her rationale to an extent because yes, it does create a greater awareness. But is that all we want?

According to a Newsweek article, two years later not one of the abducted girls was rescued from the start of the campaign and only 57 have escaped on their own. If these girls are escaping on their own, why can’t the military, who is trained for sophisticated rescue operations, save them? Celebrities could support troops to prioritize this mission.  157 girls were still missing a year later, and the article claims that 219 remain missing two years later after the kidnapping.

If you think you are helping #bringthegirlsback through your hashtag and online content, you’re mistaken. The clicktivism campaign helped make the issue an international one and bring awareness to even A-listers. But even those A-listers have only stopped at the send of the hashtag.

Clicktivism can help spread awareness, but it can not create a change. If we want to make a real change in the world, we must be willing to go beyond our online platforms.

Clicktivism in Youth: A Refutation

In the article titled “Kony 2012 Shows The Power Of Youth And Social Media,” author Iman Baghai explores the idea that social media in the #Kony2012 campaign helped propel the cause forward. He claims that social media drastically helped shed light on the situation and bring awareness to the cause. Baghai also speaks to the idea that because this movement has been so large on social media, youth have been greatly involved. Youth involvement when it comes to political issues in the United States has historically been low. This movement occurred almost solely on social media which allowed it to reach the younger audience, causing greater involvement for them. This campaign’s use of clicktivism brought attention to the issue in a dramatic way and incorporated youth involvement, but did it actually create a change?

#Kony2012 has reinforced unhelpful narratives about child soldiers, and simplified an extremely complex conflict into something easily understandable for the youth of America. But did change actually ensue due to this rise in internet activism? While clicktivism can help bring attention to issues, it doesn’t necessarily work to create real life change. We believe that even though clicktivists did assist in spreading this story rapidly it was just another example as to how false sense of change can spread. The idea of watching a video or clicking a link and signing a petition doesn’t do nearly enough to actually create change.

This movement was easy to be involved with because it was heavily promoted through social media platforms and all you had to do was show support by sharing a link or posting a status. Doing these things give people a sense of achievement and involvement in a cause. By re-tweeting a hashtag, people think they’ve helped, and move on to something else in their life feeling guilt free. Most social media campaigns like #Kony2012 demand short, emotive campaign material. In other words, if you “like” something or change your profile picture, then you are shaping your online identity in a particular way by affiliating yourself with this cause. This is something people can easily do to make themselves seem like they are truly involved in a cause when in fact they haven’t really done much of anything. Overall, while clicktivism can be good to bring attention to a cause, it doesn’t create the tangible difference. Clicktivism doesn’t nearly compare to taking hands on action in person.

“Social Media Made the World Care About Standing Rock”, but was that it?: A Refutation

In today’s modern world our daily lives are constantly surrounded by differing social media platforms. It is easy for someone to create the illusion of being involved with rising movements such as the Standing Rock protest that occurred recently in North Dakota. While it is true that there are power in numbers we cannot say the same if those numbers are hidden behind a computer screen hundreds of miles from the heart of the issue.


An article on wired.com written by Emily Dreyfuss discusses both the successes and failures the world has seen throughout the Standing Rock protest. This article creates a framework arguing that the #hashtags and clicktivsm campaign was just as important, if not more important, than the physical protesters who camped out in the freezing temperatures of North Dakota. As we know, thousands camped out and marched to the reservation in order to deny the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The article also argued that protesters, “knew what could and would happen if the world stopped watching, and the world did” which was the ultimate demise of this protest.

The juxtaposed paragraph following the claim about the importance of the social eye on the Standing Rock protest began with “Today, President Trump signed an executive memo aimed at allowing the Dakota Access Company to finish the last bit of pipeline.”  This structure credits the protest failures to the lack of clicktivism towards the end of this long struggle. I disagree with what this article is arguing because it is simply an illogical argument that discredits the thousands of protesters who stayed put in their snow-covered tents with minimal food and water in North Dakota.

There is no question that social media and clicktivism made the world care more about Standing Rock and this fight. By November 1, over 1 million facebook users had “checked-in” to Standing Rock. These social platform allows for acts of solidarity in protest around the world that has not been available throughout this nation’s history.  However I believe we cannot get confused with the hierarchy of importance when it comes to protest. Clicktivism is becoming an important aspect of modern day protest but it would be nothing if it weren’t for those willing to be present, shedding blood, sweat and tears to fight for what they believe in.