Dr. Walter J. Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who admitted to killing Cecil the lion during a hunting trip to Zimbabwe, has become a hot topic of conversation on social media. Now it is the hunter who has become the hunted and all of it through the Internet. It is a angry uproar heard around the world.
“Vox Populi”: A Latin phrase meaning voice of the people. Well, voices are being heard as people are taking to social media to weigh in on the moral ethics of Cecil’s death or the blood sport of game hunting in general. A Facebook page organizing a boycott of Palmer’s dental practice in Minneapolis was quickly setup with over 10,000 signatures in support. And the sentiment has been wide-spread because Palmer has since closed his dental practice. And on the White House’s “We the People” platform over 12K e-signatures have been amassed demanding the Obama administration extradite Palmer to Zimbabwe to face his crimes and justice. It seems pictures of dead majestic animals do not play well on Instagram!! As on poster put it “Palmer has become the MOST hated man on the Internet.
And while finishing this post, I am listening to Jimmy Kimmel emotionally discuss the killing of Cecile along with pictures of the dentist holding other dead animals he has previously hunted. Kimmel has used his fame to promote and ask viewers to support the Cambridge University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit – a zoological unit that had studied Cecile in Zimbabwe (www.wildcru.org).
No doubt change occurs when the average Jane’s or Joe’s voice is heard. But can change be affected by people who weigh in via their computer, tablet or phone? There is also no denying on-line activism helps to increase the speed, reach and effectiveness of activist-related communication as well as mobilizing people’s efforts. The hope is that when people join groups and engage in discussion they are at the first stage of involvement. Progressively, it is hoped that they will begin signing petitions online and graduating to offline contact and deepening their level of personal involvement.
My biggest beef on social activism? It is often short-lived and then people move on to the latest flavor of the month. “Kony 2012” and “Bring Home Our Girls” are two issues that skyrocketed to fame on the Internet and then just as quickly people lost interest and moved on. The U.S Civil Rights Movement, the right to have an abortion or legalizing Gay Marriages would never have become a reality in some countries if these social movements had relied solely on Social Media. Activism requires direct vigorous action