Rich (New) Media Poor Activism Debates on Activism Movements in New MediaAkan Yanık, Mikail Batu
The convergence of the Internet and the media has enormously transformed the way in which the communication and interaction potential not only of the people, but also of the machines with their surroundings, and expanded their forms of participation. While the new media, which is the result of this convergence, has come to the forefront with its functional benefits as a catalyst such as information searching, expressing ideas, socializing and entertainment, its transformational role on media literacy and communication behaviours should also not be overlooked. Today, it is not difficult to predict that this transformational role will have much wider effects considering that people from every generation are heavy new media users and that even offline world interactions are virtual. In this study, we thought that it is vital to investigate how the activism ability of humans that made them the subject of their era will be transformed with the new media and what the effects will be, especially in the
light of ideological theories. Therefore, by studying the effects of the new media within the scope of activism, we tried to present the new media-activism relations, new types of digital activism, differences between these types and discussions under different perspectives. In this study, which tries to shed light on the effect of online cyber activism on real-life activism, firstly cyber activism types were gathered under a typology and then discussions on these types were tried to be presented with the interpretations of two different fronts. The discussions between ‘media carta’ approach, which sees the new media as the new tool of democratization and points out to its success on recent international examples, and ‘slacktivism’ approach claiming that cyber activism creates a sense of misunderstanding and undermines real-life activism were interpreted.
Yeni Medyada Aktivizm Hareketleri Üzerine Zengin Medya Kısır Aktivizm TartışmalarıAkan Yanık, Mikail Batu
İnternet ve medya yakınsaması yalnızca insanların değil makinelerin de çevreleriyle olan iletişim ve etkileşim kurma potansiyelini önemli ölçüde dönüştürmüş ve katılım biçimlerini genişletmiştir. Bazı yakınsamaların sonucu olan yeni medyanın bir katalizör olarak, bilgi arama, fikirleri ifade etme, sosyalleşme ve eğlence gibi fonksiyonel faydaları öne çıksa da medya okuryazarlığı ve iletişim davranışları üzerindeki dönüştürücü rolü gözden kaçmamalıdır. Günümüzde farklı yaşlardan kişilerin, yoğun bir şekilde yeni medya kullanıcısı olduğu ve çevrimdışı dünya etkileşimlerinin de sanal olabildiği göze alındığında bu dönüştürücü rolün çok daha geniş etkilere sahip olacağını tahmin etmek mümkündür. Bu çalışmada, özellikle ideoloji kuramları ışığında, kişileri, döneminin öznesi yapan aktivizm yeteneğinin günümüzde yeni medyayla nasıl bir dönüşüm geçirdiği ve etkilerinin ne olduğu yönündeki araştırmanın büyük önem taşıdığı düşünülmektedir. Dolayısıyla yeni medyanın etkilerini aktivizm çerçevesinden inceleyerek, yeni medya-aktivizm ilişkisi, yeni dijital aktivizm türleri, bu türler arasındaki farklılıklar ve tartışmalar, farklı bakış açıları altında sunulmaya çalışılmıştır. Çevrimiçi siber aktivizmin gerçek yaşam aktivizmi üzerindeki etkisine ışık tutmaya çalışan bu çalışmada, öncelikle siber aktivizm türleri bir tipoloji altında toplanmış daha sonra bu türler üzerindeki tartışmalar iki farklı cephenin yorumlarıyla sunulmaya çalışılmıştır. Yeni medyayı demokratikleştirmenin yeni aracı olarak görüp uluslararası güncel örneklerdeki başarısını işaret eden ‘medya carta’ anlayışı ile siber aktivizmin yanlış bir fark yaratma duygusu yaratıp gerçek yaşam aktivizmini baltaladığını iddia eden ‘slacktivizm’ anlayışı arasındaki tartışmalar yorumlanarak ele alınmıştır.
The most obvious benefit of the new media emerging as a result of convergence is that it begins to easily convey all the information, ideas and facts, without any political, social and geographical boundaries. Although this benefit more often enables the transformation and globalization of communication systems, it has also made possible the rise of global protest networks (Ayers & Maccaughey, 2003). Today, the potentials offered by the new media for social collective movements are more likely seen in practices such as co-ordinating activities, meeting and mobilizing new activists, planning protests and publicizing highly strategic information. However, recent studies emphasize that new media should focus not only on cost-effective solutions created in communication techniques, but also on new motivations, creative and tactical potential, propagation speed, participation frequency and power of legitimacy which are added to the collective actions. However, the detailed literature review in this study shows that although the technical and functional relationship between new media and activism is explicit, its effects on activist participation psychology and the capacity to create sustainable solutions are highly controversial. While the studies focusing on the intensity of online participation and the frequency of messages created by the new media in social movements shows an optimistic table, studies focusing on offline participation forms, sustainability and psychological details emphasize pessimistic results.
According to techno-supporters who focus on the process of technologysupported cognitive demonstrations and who are optimistic about the relationship between activism and new media, the new media has created an activist approach that forms creative collective identities with the opportunities it offers, calls for transnational support by transcending borders, and organizes demonstrations against political pressures. Thus, the new media is the new intersection point between the social context, the political objective and the actional stance, which create social movements. At this point of intersection, the new media first settles into daily practices with functional benefit and then transforms the practices of creating needs, ideas, and actions with new usage behaviours and transformed media literacy. In other words, as a result of mobility, advanced interface and multimedia supported infrastructure, firstly the practices and media literacy changes, and subsequently the typographic and phonetic signification practices in communication begin to transform. Techno-supporters argue that this transformation process directly supports the idealistic concepts such as multicenterism, liberty, disconnection, cooperation and accessibility in the ideological infrastructure of social movements (Tarrow, 2011). The techno-supporter front, who views the new media as the most important center of media democracy and symbolizes it as ‘media carta’, supports this argument by the emergence of new types of digital activism and by the fact that the actions it carries out can create sensational effects. The optimistic approaches of the techno-supporters have been tried to be conveyed under the umbrella of cyber activism via new activist methods such as clicktivism, netactivism, smartmob, cyberdisobedience, hacktivism, cybervigilantism, netwarism and cyberterrorism.
Techno-critics address the new media with the critical theories put forward by the representatives of Marshall McLuhan and the Frankfurt School, and seeing it as a global ideological device, state that it is an area that needs to be carefully managed. In addition, it is emphasized that the level of autonomy that the new media, which is announced as the new instrument of revolution in the events like Arab Spring and seen as the new fourth force, provides for such powerful promises is highly controversial. That is to say, the liberties and the opportunities offered for the production of content provide an asymmetric autonomy for the access and distribution of the created content. For example, it is completely enigmatic when a content spreading through popular monopolized platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will pass through Sandbox-style filter algorithms placed on search consoles, and on which page or how often it will be accessed after being ranked. According to Horkheimer and Adorno (2002), as the sovereignty of this intelligent digital status quo, developed by algorithms, becomes legitimate, the presentations in the media will be seen as the only reality, and this situation, as predicted by techno-supporters, will result in a homology that imposes uniformity under the name of harmony rather than diversity of ideas. From this point of view, some techno-critics consider the analogous mass, called the new subject, as populist intellectuals with low self-consciousness and interpret cyber activism as ‘slacktivism’, i.e. activism of the lazy (Christensen, 2011). Consequently, two basic facts lie in the essence of the techno-critics’ thoughts. First, focusing on the potential benefits of the new media with complex adaptive and SPIN characteristics but ignoring the tyrannies it might legitimize may cause huge fallacies and consequences. The second point of criticism emphasized by the techno-critics is ignoring the fact that the change that the media will initiate in the reading style would cover a large area such as media literacy and have psychological effects. Techno-critics, pointing out to conformist individualization as those rushing to leave a mark behind by Gramsci (1997) emphasize that an activism that develops based on the belief in feeling good and not the belief in making a difference is a conformist approach and the enthusiasm and motivation directed by the media as the subject cannot make the actions sustainable.
In conclusion, this study provides a technical and theoretical explanation that focuses on the effect of new media on the social, communicative, psychological and ideological dynamics underlying the collective social movements. Therefore, the perceptions and motives that enable the individual to participate in collective or individualistic networks in contemporary society, the debates between passive digital participation and active participation suggested as the new model of activism, and the important paradoxes in digital collective social movements will be further clarified.