Awareness campaigns require critical analysis
Waterloo Region hosted Free the Children’s We Day this past week. The annual event aims to raise awareness of local and global issues and promote youth empowerment and activism. The event brings entertainers, political thinkers and young people together who want to influence positive change.
With these sorts of events, and organizations like Free The Children, good work is being done. The impact of such organizations is positive and its beneficiaries are globally represented. However, we need to critically assess the impact of this particular brand of activism and awareness rather than base our judgments purely on the good intentions behind them.
We Day walks the line between activism and entertainment, and especially at the major annual event in BC, young people are naturally excited to see their favourite artists perform or send in pre-recorded sound bites of encouragement. The entertainment value can be high but the quality of the content and the effectiveness of the platform cannot take a back seat to pop performances.
Are those in attendance in it for the advocacy or a good show? Do they care about the causes they are raising awareness for beyond attending an event or sharing a Facebook post? Most importantly, for event organizers and Free the Children, does it really matter?
Free the Children’s “1 like=1 dollar” campaign took some of the slack out of “slacktivism” just as attending a concert now doubles as raising awareness. It is crucial that organizers and attendees understand that We Day is a good platform for creating change and not the means of getting there.
-The Cord Editorial Board