So, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has until Friday to pass or veto the new Forest Code (see my previous post about that here- Pleas for Dilma’s Veto and Why International Involvement Could Do More Harm than Good). My Facebook feed has continued to be filled with #dilmavetatudo messages. Today, one post in particular from Avaaz.org caught my attention. It reads in part:
Join our photo frenzy to help save the Amazon!
The Brazilian Congress has passed a catastrophic bill that gives loggers and farmers free rein to cut down huge swaths of the Amazon! Now only President Dilma can stop it. Nearly 2 million of us have signed the massive global petition to Dilma, asking her to veto the bill.
Help spread the word by sharing a photo of yourself. Avaaz will post the best ones on Facebook and use them to deliver the petition to President Dilma!
Hmmm, “frenzy” you say?
I decided to take a look at their petition page and soon became fascinated with the rapidly scrolling list of recent signers worldwide.
I wonder what affect, if any, this will have on Brazilian politics?
To be honest, I’m still a little on the fence about the overall effectiveness of online petitions. I have seen the success stories of SOPA and Komen. However, the true success of KONY 2012, I believe is still up for debate.
When clicking counts: In defense of slacktivism and clicktivism is an interesting pro-slacktivism read from One.org that also has several links to other articles both pro and con.
Am I a slacktivist?
Full disclosure, yes. I have signed many an online petition. I’ve participated in short term bans and retweeted for causes. I have done these things because I do believe online activism has a tremendous amount of potential. One definite pro that I’ve seen, is the ability to simply get the word out to the world that there is an ongoing issue or possible problem somewhere. It’s the ability to start a global discourse.
I’m hesitant to praise slacktivism for more than spreading awareness (which I do feel is needed and beneficial). Actually I’m often reminded of two things. 1) A picture I once saw of a protester holding a sign that said “I’m so angry, I made a sign about it.” 2.) The sayings, “Charity begins at home” and “Think globally. Act locally.” I worry that sometimes these global actions and petitions devolve into a version of the telephone game. The original message gets lost along the way with the facts being garbled or left out for the sake of brevity. Basic cultural differences aren’t brought into the discussion and sometimes the true facts just seem to get in the way. Maybe it’s because all of that doesn’t fit into a tweet.
I want more than 140 characters.
I think matters of global importance should be a longread whenever possible. I want the possible pros and cons, not only the skewed take on the issue from one side or the other. It truly saddens me to see how much almost everything, all sides are really tied up with corporate interests these days. Tracing the money and funding of organizations can sometimes be a little eye opening.
Do I think all corporations have an evil agenda?
Absolutely not! Please do not misunderstand me on this. All I’m saying is, that I want the facts. The basic facts and all sides of the issue when possible. I feel these are getting harder and harder to obtain. I know inflammatory speech gets attention but it also often omits information.
You know what’s interesting?
I have yet to find a full translation, or original Portuguese version, of the new Forest Code on Avaaz’s, Greenpeace’s or the WWF’s sites. If I’ve missed it and you’ve found it, I beg you to please, please let me know. I’ll retract this before you can blink twice.
I just would like to know what it is exactly before I consider signing a petition asking someone to veto it.
Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe I’m officially old now and my laments sound like those of older generations’ warning about the dangers of the telephone, TV or rock music, but I miss my facts. I miss a time when people could disagree but actually still be civil to one another. I miss when people attempted to work together and not simply stonewall each other like pouting children. Maybe I dreamed that time up and it never existed. I don’t know.
What I do know is that the “news” has increasingly misinformed me.
I feel that the dying print and television media along with their online devisions (I can only speak about the American ones) are so eager to be first that many do not even vet their stories properly anymore. Everyday I see so many correction notices. It’s lead me to a little bit of disheartened disillusionment. Currently, I honestly don’t know what to truly believe half the time.
“Let us go in; the fog is rising.” Emily Dickenson penned, while Joseph Conrad wrote, “It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.” In this current fog of misinformation where possible great achievements may or may not be taking place maybe it’s best we also look at something Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best ammunition against lies is the truth, there is no ammunition against gossip. It is like a fog and the clear wind blows it away and the sun burns it off.”
Slacktivism and social media acting as winds and sunshine.
This is their true potential. The growth of the Internet and it’s ability to connect everyone worldwide instantly is absolutely amazing. With it and open minds we can learn from each other and teach each other. We can share how we do things and lead by example…or learn from examples. In terms of effective communication, however, I’ve found that it’s counterproductive to start a dialogue on the offensive. That this tactic only causes the receiver to react from the defensive and sadly, from that point on, true agreements are rarely reached. I have also found that talking at someone rarely works long term but that having a conversation seems beneficial to both sides.
So, I guess in the end, what I am suggesting is that my view of some petitions are that they may possibly be talking at someone (telephone game style) without hearing the other sides or taking all things into account. That maybe we should use social media and it’s magnificent power as a wind to clear away the debris of misinformation and not as a hammer to pound those we disagree with into submission.
Avaaz.org’s petition, is, to be fair, very well worded and the organization does deserve to be commended for their recent actions and activities in Syria. There they have shown a commitment to help get the facts of the ongoing struggle out to the world.
How do I personally feel about the veto?
First, like I’ve said in a previous post, I think it’s in Brazil’s hands. It’s their land. Second, to be honest, I don’t know enough information about it to say one way or another and that’s the problem. My inner child heart, who grew up watching Captain Planet, tells me that the “Eco-Villains” are out to destroy the Amazon but my adult brain can’t honestly argue that, in good faith, without all of the facts.