So What?

Hashtags, Handkerchiefs, Hot Shoppes, and Influence

September 2, 2016  • Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program

“So What?” – Your BI-Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact

Lovingly selected and lightly snarked by Team APEP: David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane, and Alex Gabriel

It’s activism, not slacktivism

The revolution will not be televised, but will it be tweeted? Protesters on the ground may scorn social media “slacktivists.” But we should give credit where it is due. In fact, the hashtag can catalyze discussions on issues, raise awareness of events, and ultimately affect people’s understanding of problems. Likewise, hashtags serve as benchmarks to understand the spread of discourse. The Pew Research Center takes on the task of monitoring the spread of #blacklivesmatter and makes the data richer and zestier by layering analyses of race and exposure levels. For a tasty spoonful of food for thought, take a gulp of PRC’s new report.

How many tear-soaked handkerchiefs will it take to end war?

For over a decade, ASPCA has deployed Sarah MacLauchlan’s tear-jerking song, Angel to end animal cruelty. Despite a record number of tear-soaked handkerchiefs, animal cruelty persists. So when NPR asked “can one photo end war?” our inner-skeptic did a double take. The heartbreaking image of Omran Daqneesh may be pressed into our minds, but war rages on. Impact, however, can be seen elsewhere. The YouTube video showing the rescue of Omran sits at over 4 million views, and charities like Mercy Corps saw a spike in donations. If you believe impact might start with you, here’s a list of humanitarian organizations active in Syria.

I don’t care if you’re in my backyard (IDC-IYIMBY)

Some Presidential candidate(s) prefer media attention at any cost, while other(s) prefer smaller settings, and some seek to optimize. The relationship between media attention and popularity is still dubious and it remains difficult to disentangle causal direction. But those small-town church and bakery stops may not be helping Secretary Clinton become President… At least, so says this study of the 2012 contenders.  Backyard campaign stops may give warm-tingly feelings (of love or rage), but they apparently cost a lot and do little to change voters’ minds.