Tuesday, 28 January 2014

‘Please sign and share’: Is it possible to sign a petition every day…?

Log onto Facebook and Twitter in the morning and one of the first things you’ll usually see is a request to sign a petition. Amnesty, All Out, Avaaz ... Homophobia in the Olympics, a venue threatening to close, ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’: the Internet wants your signature (well, your name and your fake address anyway...).

Some fear that internet activism is replacing the real thing. Just as likely is that it's facilitating nation-wide mobilisations too. Either way, this is the age of the petition and it’s time to get seriously involved. So, from tomorrow onwards I'm going to seriously consider every petition I come across (even more so than usual...) then I'll sign it if I agree strongly enough and Tweet it with this hashtag:


Let’s see how it long lasts. Please sign and share.


Josh R said...

I have to admit, I find myself experiencing "petition blindness". There are so many petitions, on multiple platforms, all insisting that if you don't sign now! then the baddies will win.

It's perhaps a little disappointing that discourse has now devolved into 'read outrage and sign, then tweet, like and share!'. For example, the Night and Day petition that generated tens of thousands of signatures was extremely effective at tapping into a sense of unfairness and insta-outrage, but with little discussion and analysis of the actual issue.

Petitions are perhaps the summation of our near-powerlessness and our inability to spend real time and effort considering the issues at hand. Signing a petition offers someone the feeling that they are doing something, but without needing to invest the time and effort to actually create change. As an example, see how a petition of near 2,000 signatures (real and online) was reduced to one-line in a planning committee recommendation on approving a zombie carpark in the Northern Quarter.

Petitions serve a purpose, but they've become the 'go to' tool when there's a sniff of outrage or disparity. They can encourage a herd mentality and authorities know this; they can easily ignore them or issue platitudes in response. Just look at the plethora of bland replies on the main UK government petition site. 170,000+ people opposed the Health BIll and the only response is that it's now been signed. An Opposition led debate appeared to have negligible impact.

The only petition that matters, it seems, is that one at the ballot box. How do we harness the apparent groundswell of opinion over some of the issue we've seen debated in petitions? Or is the truth that we feel signing a petition is more powerful than voting? I don't have the answer but I do have a lot of frustration.

Anonymous said...

Found out who the complainant's landlord's are Meike Cavanagh & John Cavanagh it's a disgrace they never told there tenants about there could be an issue with noise from N&D