March 31st, 2014

reflect

Online petitions

Online activist sites have burgeoned. A couple of years ago, I'd occasionally get an email (such as from IRAC) asking me to sign a petition or participate in a mass email. In the last year or two, however, I saw the odd petition, on sites such as change.org, 38 Degrees or SumOfUs, about a cause I felt sufficiently strongly about to want to sign; once I did so, they had my email address, and would email me from time to time with other petitions to sign.

This sounds good in theory—mass activism via the Internet—but soon I began to feel I was drowning in petitions. There'd only be a few a week, but when they arrived, I'd put them aside to look into later: I didn't want to simply read a summary and sign; I wanted to check first I had all the facts, and agreed with the evidence. Some of the above sites include links to external articles on the web corroborating what they say about their causes; some do not. But checking facts takes time, and everything else I wanted or needed to do took priority.

Now I've got nineteen emails dating back two months waiting to be attended to, and I simply do not have the time to give each one the attention it deserves. I feel I'm reduced to a choice between signing petitions without checking them out thoroughly, or ignoring worthy causes I would agree with had I the time and effort to deal with them. And this, I'm sure, is not how it's meant to be. But once it becomes easy to deliver the man on the street one request for action, it becomes just as easy to deliver him as many as there are; and it's simply not possible to deal with everything.

But I'm not the only person out there receiving requests to sign petitions or email organisations. So how do the rest of you deal with this problem?

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.