The Birth of Apathy (Response to “The Tragedy of Political Advocacy”)

 Everyone that has a Facebook has come across a friend or family member’s post that says something similar to, “Save the Madagascar Tree Frogs from extinction, Sign this petition!” At first when this trend began I was in high school and each time I typed in my name and email and pressed “Send Signature!” I felt like I may have been that swing vote, that tipping point person that made the campaign win, but we now know that is far from reality. Each congressional office receives hundreds or thousands of emails a day, but the messages are not heard because this constant barrage of faceless voices just becomes a norm. In his article The Tragedy of Political Advocacy, Jake Brewer writes, “the very technology that has allowed virtually any citizen to share a message with their representative has also produced paralyzing noise, making Congress far less able to hear what citizens have to say” (Brewer). Many people might wonder why this tactic is successful. In the past activists have used this technique with snail mail and gotten there voices heard, what changed? The article suggests three main reasons. First, advocacy organizations do not understand the political process. If you ask a baker to fix your car engine, nothing is going to get done. Often times a group of passionate people don’t know which politician to ask, and if you ask the wrong person they rarely will have the time to redirect you to the right one. The second reason is that the systems in place designed to deliver the citizens messages are great at creating list serves but terrible at getting the message to the decision maker. Most emails sent wont even be received let alone read. Finally, the last reason this online advocacy is just not working is due to the congresses inability to make sense of, measure, and act on the 500 electronic signatures they get daily. The congressperson’s small staff doesn’t have the time and that’s ok. Brewer suggests some solutions like hand delivering petitions and being “clear to supporters when community is our goal and when real political muscle is the goal”. I’m not going to deny these are a step in the right direction but there is another way. It’s this new trend called “get off your ass”. I find it pretty sad that 91% of people who sign to save something actually “deeply care” about the issue but don’t take the time to follow up with it to see if they made a difference (Brewer). We are all guilty of this, and so I’m not blaming you. But if you actually care about something, join a campaign; don’t succumb to apathy like so many others have. Just as we are bombarded daily with sad news from around the world, which can make some begin to lose faith and eventually stop caring, our representatives are going through the same process. How can we expect change when we smother someone with demands instead of offering a helping hand? Becoming an activist has changed my life because it taught me that to continue business as usual is the same thing as becoming apathetic. People say ignorance is bliss but soon they will be saying apathy is bliss. If people no longer care about the health of their communities, peers, and planet, the lifespan of humanity will surely be short.

One Comment

on “The Birth of Apathy (Response to “The Tragedy of Political Advocacy”)
One Comment on “The Birth of Apathy (Response to “The Tragedy of Political Advocacy”)
  1. Would being an activist be enough to sway? Yes being on the internet does not show how much people actually care, but what other method would you propose instead of things being placed on the internet to gather supporters? if someone support some incident in New York, and you live in portland how else would you get your message across, away from the internet?

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