Clicktivism Versus Boots on the Ground

July 10, 2012

We all have childhood memories, some are through rose tinted glasses- I’m almost sure I spent my Irish summers on the beach- in reality it was probably just a few days here and there.

There are however, some memories clearly etched into my mind that are no feat of my imagination and these came in the form of feet on the ground protesting- pioneered by my steadfast mother.

I was fortunate enough to grow up beside the infamous bathing area the Forty Foot, formerly known as “The Forty Foot Gentleman’s Bathing Place”.


Having a rowdy brood of six children under her wing, my mother knew the benefit of exercise and the calming and soothing effect of the great Irish Sea. Never mind the traditional Christmas day swim- come rain, hail, shine, snow we were plunged daily, all year round into the waters of Sandycove. However, if the tide wasn’t with us or it was too choppy we were forced out of the cove and round to the Forty Foot. As children, we knew the Forty Foot was a male only area, we knew there were nudists around the back area- who occasionally came around the front, we knew there were men on the gate- who shifted their bodies’ dominantly so as to obscure the entrance into the Forty Foot, we didn’t want to cross this line. Our mother, however, had a different perspective, she wanted to swim, she wanted us to swim and that was that.  So, as instructed, we squeezed, we scurried and we marched with our heads held up high past the men, we swam, we were nervous, we were snorted at- but we had protested, we were boots on the ground and slowly but surely more women came, more children came, the signs were changed, the ringing of Julius Ceasar’s conquering speech rung in our ears “Veni Vidi Vici”

This is one of many marches we were taken on as children in the 1980s, others such as the cuts against teacher’s pay and Wood Quay demonstrations provided us with rounded characteristics and the strength to fight for our rights.

Now, as a mother myself, I know my son won’t be exposed to such marches- because for more than a decade revolutionaries and culture jammers have been paralysed by the computer screen. Activism has now been replaced with “Clicktivism”- destroying traditional Boots on the ground protesting.  Clicktivism has been defined as “the use of social media and other online methods to promote a cause”.

Many have argued that clicktivism has polluted meaningful social activism, however, in the aftermath of the controversial #Kony2012 campaign many netizens have seen its potential to shape the real world. The Kony 2012 video caused for the arrest of Ugandan war lord Joesph Kony, who had recruited child soldiers to wage war in Uganda. The video is now considered the most viral video in history and got unprecedented support. The below chart shows how quickly the video actually spread, the amount of days to a 100 million views was just 6, beating Susan Boyle and Lady Gaga.


The makers of the video have been criticised for being too simplistic in their approach to the problems in Uganda, however since the video was released on March 5th, one of Kony’s LRA compatriots have been captured and more troops have been deployed to central Africa.

So, it does appear that some clicktivism can result in real action, however “liking” something on Facebook, or retweeting on Twitter is actually in the “slacktivism” category- which is defined as “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social networking website”.

I think the future requires a healthy mix of clicktivism, slacktivism and feet on the ground, we need to use all tools, we need to get the balance right to get the results we want… “whatta do we want… we want change”.

– Oilbhe


2 Responses to “Clicktivism Versus Boots on the Ground”

  1. n counahan said

    well done Oilbhe – well written and full of memories. M

  2. niall72 said

    Right on sister. Was swimming in the Forty Foot yesterday evening and I’m pleased to report that your mother and your siblings’ boots on the ground in the 1980’s have a resulted in a happy and buoyant (sorry) amassing of the sexes in the ‘snot green sea, the scrotumtightening sea’.

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