I’ve been thinking a lot lately about social media and how/if it works as a tool of activism. Like many others, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s controversial piece in the New Yorker debunking its power and efficacy.
And, of course, I’ve been watching Egyptians and the rest of the Arab world use Twitter and Facebook, Gmail, etc. to organize and (in the case of Egypt) overthrow their repressive regime. Seems social media can’t be counted out quite yet.
But when it comes to advocating on food issues, Ken Cook on the US Environmental Working Group Agriculture blog makes a really important (if slightly harsh) point about its limitations and the importance of doing all the other work of political organizing: pounding the pavement, talking to people, pressuring politicians to listen, etc.
Those of us in the advocacy world can meet, tweet or blog ad nauseam with one another, dreaming up policy ideas in support of local or organic food, more fruit and veggies in schools, wildlife habitat or clean water, but what we need to do is to build the lobbying and grassroots muscle to turn ideas into funded realities. That means taking on the subsidy lobby; for instance, taking a bite out of the $5.2 billion per year in direct payment crop subsidies going out to the wealthiest landlords and farmers in a period of record earnings for those crops.
Nothing wrong with blogging, but to paraphrase Truman Capote, that’s not advocacy. That’s typing.
What do you think?
[illustration by Andrea Curtis]