Local Digital Slactivism: Call to Action?

So, we found out my daughter’s grade school is closing at the end of this year, throwing more than a hundred families lives into turmoil.

Although the timing was unexpected, it was certainly not a surprise.  The parish community rallied for an opportunity to have one more year to reverse the situation.  As it stands, the school is still closing, and the community is displeased with the Archdiocese, to say the least.  They quickly organized a rally and got the word out.

The parents ran a pitch perfect media operation.  Everything was coordinated via email, they eventually got the press on the story, got it discussed on morning radio (Preston & Steve), got live video coverage of a student protest, and had a packed house when the Archdiocese’s ax-women showed-up.  It likely is all for naught, as it truly is about ‘the money’,  but I think there’s a chance they’ll get a reprieve (which only delays the inevitable).  That said, someone put up a petition on change.org, which several people shared via Facebook as well as email (and I suspect instant message, text message, etc.).


Take a gander at the growth pattern:

  • 1,000th signer —pm from springfield, PA · about 17 hours ago
  • 750th signer · about 21 hours ago
  • 500th signer · about 24 hours ago
  • 250th signer · 1 day ago
  • 100th signer —SR from West Chester, PA · 1 day ago
  • 50th signer —EMcC  from Springfield, PA · 1 day ago
  • 25th signer —LT from Springfield, PA · 1 day ago
  • 10th signer —MMcK from Berwyn, PA · 1 day ago
  • 5th signer —MC from Springfield, PA · 1 day ago
1200+ signers may equate to no more than 240 people ready to take action or financially support a movement.  Those 240 people will have both an immediate and delayed effect as they tell their story over and over, and doing it digitally means it scales logarithmically.  I suspect that without further action, the growth has stopped.


Mind you, there was no call to action for the petitioners, and signing an online form  is not the same thing as picketing the AOP’s offices, donating money, or boycotting the collection plate.  Low involvement tasks like liking, signing, and forwarding may give you a sense of participation, but ultimately it is slacktivism.


Taking the offline world and magnifying it through online network effects can eventually have unexpected (and pleasant or unpleasant) outcomes, depending on the audience and the call to action.  What that is in this case – and what if any price is to be paid – remains to be seen.

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