People want to help. There is no doubt about this fact. But, people are also lazy. That combination gives birth to social media activism.
Earth is one of the few hospitable planets that we are aware of. Sometimes, nonetheless, it becomes harsh to the living beings that are calling it home.
Wildfires, terrorism, earthquakes, hurricanes, or nuclear accidents are prevalent. These events have, sometimes, an impact on residential areas, destroying houses, injuring or killing people.
We have been living for quite a while in the era of smart devices. These are equipped with state-of-the-art cameras. Accessibility in terms of price and availability allowed them to be a commonplace item in pockets of people living in the developed world.
What's also highly accessible in the developed world is internet access. While cost discrepancies create access gaps between wealthy and poor countries, in one way or another, access is frequent.
Utilizing the internet for data transfer, platforms were built on top of it, supposedly democratizing societies by giving voice to every participant, for free. What's more, the recent boom in instant picture-sharing features in these platforms gave users a powerful medium to participate in the commons, by either consumption or production. Or so they think it did.
Combine all these ingredients of modern societies and you will get what I like to call social media pseudo-activism. The noble struggle of people to provide blended with innate human laziness and fear to be involved.
I could become highly verbose and end up writing a book on the topic but that is not what I intend to do. I am going to keep it very short and specific, stating my understanding of why the phenomenon occurs and if the "pseudo" characterization I am attaching to it has any validity.
The cause of the phenomenon boils down to:
false sense of involvement generated by a number of people receiving your message (feeling that you are part of the problem and hopefully part of a solution)
innate willingness to help (after all, humans work best in communities)
laziness (the Internet made us lazy)
peer pressure (everyone is doing it so I should be doing it, too)
Now, on examining the validity of my "pseudo" characterization:
talking or writing never has the same effect as acting, unless you are a Plato level speaker or writer
your voice/writings are a drop in an ocean of voices/writings that do not align so that they can have an impact in political decision making
you are a funnel, not a source
you don't have a large enough audience and even if you do, they don't care
So, does is the Internet useless for actual activism?
it requires people that are willing to act by producing thoughtful content or solutions that help people in need
it's the best medium to transfer information provided that it is done in a structured and meaningful way
So, if you have to be an activist use the Internet as a tool to build solutions or use your presence for transferring and filtering useful information.