#trending

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This week, I decided to talk a bit about social media activism for our weekly #trending column.

The idea first occurred to me on Wednesday, after I caught wind of a video — “Caine’s Arcade" — that had just begun to go viral. Aside from it being a really great video and touching story, I was floored by the fact that after only a couple days, the scholarship fund set up for the young boy had already accrued $100,000.

The idea that so many people were moved enough to donate money after watching a video they found on a blog, or on Twitter or Facebook, struck me. And then it got me thinking.

Earlier in the week, my colleague Erin Chapin had shared an infographic she found on “slacktivism,” a term combining the words “slacker” and “activist.” Critics say these kind of “activists” are not really doing anything to effect change. Simply tweeting a link to a cause is not enough, they argue.

But the infographic shows otherwise. The facts and figures are really interesting. It says slacktivists are twice as likely to volunteer; twice as likely to ask for donations; twice as likely to take part in an event; and four times as likely to encourage others to sign a petition or contact a politician.

And when you think about how recent events have been brought to the forefront of the online conversation — the Trayvon Martin case, KONY 2012, SOPA, the “Bully” movie and movement, for instance — it makes sense.

I did a little more digging to see what else has been said about social media activism, and I stumbled across a really interesting PBS Mediatwits podcast from March 30. I mention some of the comments made by Change.org communications director Brianna Cayo-Cotter in my column, but the rest of the panel made some great points, too. It’s definitely worth a listen.

I also found a recent NPR segment, Social Media Changing The Nature Of Activism?, which talks about how social media has “can even bring issues to light that might otherwise have been overlooked by mainstream media.”