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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Are You an Armchair Advocate? | Charles Bentley, Impatient Optimists

Answering that headline question: Yes, I am one! At least I'm trying to be one. And being an armchair advocate helps me feel strong, effective, conscientious and even proud.

In his blog post, Bentley explains the term and role of armchair advocates (emphasis added):
I am talking about someone who uses the power of social media to advocate on behalf of the causes that matter most. Someone who uses everyday online tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest and the bazillion other social media sites to promote social good among their spheres of influence. Someone who manages to drive their peers to invest their time and talents to solve global problems, all with the click of a mouse.
And he responds to the question, "Why does this matter?":
It matters because it means that anyone – an individual, company, government or organization – can be a change agent using social media to create social good. Nonprofits and governments are no longer the sole drivers of a cause. Anyone with access to a mobile device or a mouse can organize an impactful campaign.
Bentley emphasizes that simply "Liking" a Facebook post or "Re-Tweeting" a  Twitter post isn't enough. To be effective, armchair advocates need to make more of an effort that that. And he provides some examples.

One of the values of social media--as we've seen happening across the planet in the past couple of years--is that they help people connect with other like-minded people in promoting social and political action. Users of social media can bypass the mainstream news media and even political tyrants to promote their causes.

And people respond! They endorse candidates and causes on Facebook ... and explain their positions. They create discussion. They attend rallies and marches. They write emails and letters to their elected representatives.  They join organizations that support their interests. They volunteer for food banks and phone banks and more. They contribute money. They vote! And they spread the word to other people ... using social media, of course.

For a democracy like the United States, social media are now an essential tool to helping citizens protect their rights and fulfill their responsibilities. Though still difficult to accomplish, social media can help us counter the wealth and connections of large, wealthy corporations and other organizations.

Bentley's blog post is featured today in my online daily paper, Garbl's Good Cause Communications--available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.

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