Upclose Activism

The Center for Community Change’s Sally Kohn has a piece today about the passionate Millennial activism that is taking place online and the extent to which it happens off line.

We’ve kinda heard this complaint before with Thomas Friedman’s Generation Q piece that slammed the Millennial Generation for not being disgusted enough by our contemporary world to take to the streets. In Mike’s rebuttal of the piece and indeed many of us who spoke out against Friedman’s uneducated assumptions, it isn’t that Millennials aren’t taking to the streets, indeed they are, they are just virtual streets

Kohn is bothered by the virtual part. She agrees that young people feel “deeply connected” with causes – things going on in Darfur, Tibet, you name it…. Bus she fears the online activism will “erode the community values [Millennials] seek”

“On the one hand, they have grown up with new technologies that have helped the world connect more easily; on the other hand, they have been raised alongside the rise of hyperindividualism in American culture that has isolated us from each other and the world around us…

But social movements are based on collective action. The American Revolution, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and every significant social change movement in between and since has relied on community organizing, building mutually responsible communities to challenge the status quo.”

Kohn says that the internets are very individualistic. Seems Kohn hasn’t heard of Web 2.0. I don’t know about ya’ll but we are collectively communicating right here on the tubes. And this blog is fed into facebook – which if you haven’t seen it is this SOCIAL networking site where all these people who went to school together, work together, or associate in the same causes collectively chill together on line.

For example, Invisible Children started out just on MySpace and Facebook, living through social networking sites, this organization brought awareness and action to a cause among an age specific group of people. Now, young people are serving to help walk these children to safe houses daily, people are donating online, showing the film, and raising awareness about something no one was talking about a few years ago.

IC isn’t the only one. Save Darfur is another cause that I hardly think would have the passion and power that it does today without a mobilized group of people online. If you look at online donations on Change.org or the FB Causes application you see that Save Darfur has raised $2,657 on Change with 1997 actions and $24,000 on the Causes Application on Facebook.

Young people have a lot of power and that power can take place on-line or off, each action is just as valid and just as powerful and appreciated. No one should be allowed to get away with diminishing that.

Tell your friends!