Where does the value go?

In Jenkins article on Avatar Activism, he talks about how spreadable media is being used to promote causes that would otherwise go unheard, “civic media”. Although I am a very big supporter of such media, there is always a dividing line as to when it loses its actual value and becomes just another form of social currency. This is where the term “slactivism” comes in and can be scene all around us. By promoting causes through digital media, such as Facebook or Twitter, there is a great disconnect between those “taking part in the cause” and the actual cause itself. A very good example of this is the ice bucket challenge that was popular a few years ago. In “Take the “No Ice Bucket” Challenge” by Will Oremus, Oremus talks about how the challenge went viral but the cause did not. I can agree with his point of view on this. Although there was a great increase in the donations to the ALS Association, the cause was not as efficient as it could have been. Partway through his post he says, “A lot of participants are spending more money on bagged ice than ALS research.”, and this is a sad truth. After about 3 weeks of the challenge being spread around the videos dropped the ALS donation portion and it turned into a bunch of friends calling each other out on an ice challenge. Although it was effective for about the first two weeks, the value of the cause dissipated and it became more of a joke. Is there a way to keep the value with the cause? Or are all civic media trends due to die at some point and just become another piece of spreadable media with very little payback to society?

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7 thoughts on “Where does the value go?

  1. I think even when something like the Ice bucket challenge degrades into something with lower payback to society it still has its value. It at the very least HAD value otherwise it wouldn’t have gone as far as it did. That said I think you might be right, anything that becomes popular due to its easy spreadability is likely to degrade in some form as people begin to use it more for themselves than for society.

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  2. Even if something dies down after a while, it still have it purpose at a certain point in time. I think that the liking and sharing is beneficial and is helpful, though it is sad that more people think that they are uberly helping the cause when truly they are only slightly.

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  3. I don’t think the IBC ever dropped the donations objective. all the ones I saw had a donation they said to donate to. They all weren’t for ALS but they all had a cause. There was also a good deal of payback to ALS through the challenge. They raised many monies and put that to research and stuff.

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  4. I think that it will always become just another piece of spreadable media, but I do not think that is a bad thing. The fact that it went viral is very impressive because a lot of things do not even do that. I also disagree with the comment that the ALS cause was not as effective as it could of been. How can there be a measure on how effective it could of been? I believe that the fact that it caused awareness and raised money for the ALS Association was very effective.

    This link, http://www.slideshare.net/jeremiah_owyang/icebucket-challenge-cold-facts-and-stats-icebucketchallenge shares a lot of information on the good the Ice Bucket Challenge did.

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  5. Unfortunately, when you try to spread awareness for something through viral media, there will usually be some people that do it just for fun or to show that they were involved. Even though the value of the challenge was degraded by popularity and lack of information, it did bring awareness to ALS and increase donations. I think if people attempted to explain ALS or explain what the challenge was for during the ice bucket challenge videos, it would have been more beneficial for the ALS Foundation.

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  6. Pingback: Best Blog Posts and so forth… | The Third Jack

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