Does hashtag activism turn into real-life participation?

Facebook 'like' logo
People walk by a Facebook logo and a thumbs up logo made popular by Facebook in Hong Kong on February 2, 2012.
AARON TAM/AFP/Getty Images

Social media allows us to engage with news and issues that matter to us every day from the comfort of our homes. But how does a "like" on Facebook or a retweet translate into a vote or real life participation? Are we becoming a country of "slacktivists?"

We wanted to talk more about this topic after reading a recent New York Times article.

Lindsay Hanson, a principal at Grassroots Solutions, will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday to talk about hashtag activism. Grassroots Solutions is a consulting firm which focuses on engaging citizens with nonprofit and labor organizations.

"I think the one thing that's underestimated is that if you like or retweet something, that putting yourself out there publicly, putting your name by it, is better than nothing," she said. "I think that that's the piece that's missed. It's obviously not enough, especially if you're talking about shifting or changing big things that are going to have lasting impact, but it helps. Is that itself a victory? No. But is it better than nothing, I'd say yes."

Betsy Sinclair, assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, will also join the discussion.

"It's interesting to show that our politics can be contagious over the internet, but we haven't yet moved away from the need for face to face," she said.


Online activism only really matters if you are interacting with people you already know.

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