Friday, 19 April 2013

Online petitions – A force for good?

38 Degrees members appear
38 Degrees members appear (Photo credit: 38 Degrees)

I’ve been signing a lot of online petitions recently. It started what seems like a long time ago with a 38 degrees petition to save the forests in England; a petition that actually seemed to have an effect. Since then there have been loads of them to sign, from saving bees to asking Starbucks to pay tax.
On the surface I doubt most people can really see anything wrong these petitions. They raise awareness of an issue and allow people to take some kind of action and express their feelings easily – almost too easily. And therein lies the rub. It’s really easy to sign a petition and think that your part has been done.
“No need to worry about the arms trade or the environment anymore, I’ve signed an online petition!”
Not sure what to think with online petitions anymore. It’s becoming clear that they are having less impact than they did at first and it seems that like protesting and letters to leaders, the people in charge will just nod, smile and do the opposite. Have online petitions started to have the opposite effect from what was intended? Do they just numb people to issues that they previously would have done something more about? I’m not sure.

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