Malcolm Gladwell had a thought-provoking article in the New Yorker last week, titled "Small Change
Why the revolution will not be tweeted", in which he looks at social media like Facebook and Twitter. He compares social activism in the 1960's and social (media) activism today: the civil rights protests that engulfed the South in the '60's, he points out, happened without e-mail, texting, Facebook or Twitter. He goes on to discuss how low-risk online social activism is. He says " Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires. The Facebook page of the Save Darfur Coalition has 1,282,339 members, who have donated an average of nine cents apiece. The next biggest Darfur charity on Facebook has 22,073 members, who have donated an average of thirty-five cents. In other words, Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro."