I received a call to action the other day.
On my Facebook news feed, there was a link to a site where I could vote for a charitable organization. The organization which received the greatest number of votes would get some badly needed funding.
There was no limit to the number of times I could vote, so the message was clear. Vote early and vote often.
It was that easy. Navigating to an online form and clicking to vote was enough to make a difference.
And that was not the only call to action I received.
Someone else posted a link to an online petition, urging me to add my name to those voicing their disgust and outrage about the actions of one politician.
Again, I could participate without leaving the comfort of my chair. It would take a minute for me to fill out the necessary spaces.
Those requests were in addition to the plentiful calls to repost, share or click the Like button for a picture or message.
In each case, an almost effortless action was supposed to make a world of difference. A click of the mouse would show my support and make my voice heard. And if enough people shared a status or signed an online petition, it would result in lasting change.
Could it really be this simple?
Since I have had Internet access, I have received such messages time and again. Earlier, they came via e-mail but today, social media sites such as Facebook are used to get the message across, more frequently than ever before.
Because it is so easy to share a social media status update or click a button on an online form, I wonder if these actions have any significant effect.
Filling out an online form and voting repeatedly for a charitable organization will not guarantee the organization will receive the funds it needs. Giving a donation to the charity and volunteering my time are much more certain ways of showing support.
An online petition about a political issue might not find its way to my politician. However, if I call up a member of council, MLA or MP and raise my concerns, at least I will have been heard.
Online communication and social media have their place.
At present, close to 27 million Canadians are using the Internet.
Worldwide, the popularity of social media continues to grow. Facebook alone has more than 900 million users worldwide.
Electronic communications can be effective ways to spread the word about an event, an organization or a cause.
But awareness by itself is seldom enough. And publicity campaigns are no substitute for action.
There are service clubs and organizations which need people who will get involved. There are advisory boards and committees which make recommendations to municipal council. There are political parties and advocacy groups. There are parent councils at each of Summerland’s schools. There are sports and arts organizations which need volunteers. There are agencies raising money for research and treatment of various diseases. And there are plenty of charitable organizations which need donations in order to keep functioning.
In short, there are plenty of tangible ways to get involved.
On second thought, maybe there’s a better way, a simpler way.
I could search online until I find an image with a strong message, share it on a social media site and wait for all my friends to repost it.
Nothing could be easier.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.