Social Media and Climate Activism

‘Clictivist’ in action

I have been a climate activist for the last 10 years. Prior to that I would send off the occasional letter to the Bairnsdale Advertiser (usually to refute some of the outlandish claims of our local climate change deniers) and may have written a short piece on the subject as early as 1996. But up to that time I was more concerned with local Aboriginal and union history and most importantly making a living. However as early as 1986 I was aware that our human caused warming planet could be a momentous problem.

After examining images of a much ice depleted 2007-8 Arctic minimum I decided that this warming overwhelmed all other issues including war and nuclear disarmament and decided to devote most of my spare time to doing something about it. I continued a range of actions including letter writing, attending demonstrations mainly in Melbourne, trying to form a single issue political party then joining another, occasional public speaking and standing for public office whenever I was able. The latter action, standing 7 times at different levels of government over the last 10 years consumed much of my energy and a large chunk of my finances. I may write about this in more detail at some later date.

About 2012 I joined facebook following instructions from my daughter. This part of the social media still remains mostly a mystery to me. Initially my friends were real acquaintances and family later followed by mostly political connections. Later that year my Canadian sister and niece presented me with a website and twitter account and I have been using both these tools actively since then. The website remains much as my niece designed it and for which I am most grateful. It is mostly climate change and global warming politics but one page (publications) has a longish list of my history essays and articles available free as pdfs.

It was the introduction to twitter that was most revolutionary. I quickly, and perhaps too aggressively, built up my followers, organised my tweets to appear automatically on facebook, and made regular daily visits to twitter promoting a wide range of good and bad news on climate change and my twice weekly blog. I now manage 3 other twitter accounts and co-manage another facebook page.

Generally twitter and facebook complement each other. Twitter goes to a far bigger audience, but mostly it is speaking to the converted or disinterested. Facebook on the other hand speaks to a much smaller audience – but it is local and with more varied background and views. The social media is an excellent tool for those no longer able to march in the streets, especially people of my generation. Action using the social media is sometimes derided as ‘clictivism’ but these tools enable you to spend hours each day working actively for your cause. As to how effective this all is I can only paraphrase Gandhi “you may never know the results of your actions, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”