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[BackChannel] Five Reasons Not To Be "Mad As Hell"

BY Morra Aarons-Mele | Thursday, February 13 2014

Maureen Dowd’s Sunday rant on the sad state of a digitized media world that “runs on clicks” felt true in many ways. But I reject the claim that the digital medium is the problem. Here are five reasons to be hopeful about the state of the digital media and social change (our very own listicle, if you will)

1. Serious content is drawing serious investment. Ezra Klein recently announced that he’ll be leaving the Washington Post for a new partnership with Vox media. Klein’s new venture aims to break away from the scoop-heavy nature of digital journalism in favor of providing greater context around stories. Bill Keller, columnist and former executive editor of The New York Times also recently announced he’s leaving the gray lady in order to cover the US criminal justice system, telling NPR’s Renee Montagne, “It's something that we prefer not to look that closely at because it's unsettling. And if we can make people pay a little bit more attention to it, then I will be very proud of that.”

2. We know clicktivism when we see it now. While many social good organizers have worried about the death of true activism in place of “clicktivism,” organizations are wise to the limited effect Facebook likes have on a cause, and are building in meaningful actions into social media promotion plans. Integration of offline and online activism is happening! For inspiration, check this truly joyful moment of mother driven power to fight for clean energy courtesy of Mothers Out Front. Whether they go on to raise money, write to their representatives, or organize in their communities, we see clicktivism as just the first rung on the engagement ladder.

3. Social media is finally driving online donations. Facebook ad driven donations convert meaningfully and #GivingTuesday, driven in large part through social media, had another stellar year. According to Blackbaud, donations made on #GivingTuesday this year increased 90% over #GivingTuesday 2012. In a survey of our social good blogger network, The Mission List, nearly 80% of respondents said that they are most often moved to give to causes that they hear about via their online social circles.

4. Feminist memes on Twitter. We don’t care what The Nation says, “hashtag” feminism is driving critical conversations about race, class, and feminism online and forcing the mainstream to pay attention. If you missed the conversations Mikki Kendall started with #solidarityisforwhitewomen and Suey Park’s #notyourasiansidekick we encourage you to check them out. The conversations might be uncomfortable for some, but important things usually are.

5. Listicles for good. In addition to the expected appearances at Davos and on The Economist, Bill and Melinda Gates produced an engaging feature on Buzzfeed.com in which they used animated .gifs to explain nine reasons “Why the World is Better than Ever.” With the Gateses geeking out on data, the facts behind maternal mortality and economic growth in Africa came to life. The piece went viral and thousands of unexpected new people now know that 7 of the world’s top 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa.

Morra Aarons-Mele is the founder of award winning digital cause marketing agency Women Online and its database of women influencers, The Mission List. She is an Internet marketer who has been working with women online since 1999. She helped Hillary Clinton log on for her first Internet chat, and launched Wal-Mart’s first blog. She was founding Political Director for BlogHer.com, and has written for BlogHer as well as The Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, MomsRising, The New York Times, The Wall St Journal, and The Guardian.