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05 March 2014 @ 09:21 pm
In which I am a cranky old cow  
Change.org started out as a brilliant idea, which has actually achieved some good results through its user-generated petitions. There are however two recent petitions that make me pretty annoyed, but wondering whether it's just me.

The first one is a petition to get McDonalds to offer a vegetarian choice. Why? If you are vegetarian why would you go to Maccas in the first place? Seriously, if you don't like the menu, go somewhere else.

The second one just leaves me shaking my head. Apparently the food colour used in M&Ms has been linked to ADHD and hyperactivity in kids, so the petition is asking the manufacturers of M&Ms to... change dyes? Leave them uncoloured? I'm not sure on that point. But I'm thinking there's a really simple solution there, which doesn't involve getting all activist-y on a social media platform.
 
 
Current Mood: crankycranky
 
 
moonlightmead on March 10th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
Ah, internet activism, click a button and feel you have changed the world and you don't actually have to go and *do* anything. I still go on marches and demos, and hate every bloody minute of it, but these days, bodies on the road is significant, compared with clicking a button, and the civil service - who are the ones who deal with the counting - know this, and so it is worth getting out there and doing it.

Obviously, I have used the internet to make my case, but I write individual emails, and when I get responses from Westminster or Wales or European or local council representatives, it is immediately clear which are individual and which are formulaic. If I can tell that about theirs, they can certainly tell that about mine.

Where the internet *is* great for activism is organising in-person stuff, from publicising demonstrations to planning Climate Camp actions to tweeting changes in plan. And yes, I am a climate camper, I bet you're surprised... :)

On the veggie thing - well, actually, I do think that if you're a veggie it is still possible to get dragged along to places with few vegetarian options. Macdonalds, yuk (along with Wimpy and BurgerKing), but it is harsh to be a vegetarian who has to go along with the crowd and order the fries because that's the only possible option.

Although most of my veggie friends reserve their frustration for Mushroom Bloody Stroganoff, which around here is the veggie staple and generally pronounced that way. That or an omelette :)
miwahni: Random Rainbow Earthmiwahni on March 11th, 2014 10:26 am (UTC)
You're right, of course, that bodies on the street / at the barricades are worth more than letters, and individual letters are worth heaps more than petitions, and yet it's surprising to see the number of petitions that actually get changes happening.
I'm actually not surprised at all to learn that you campaign for climate action :-). And it's a Good Thing.
moonlightmead on March 11th, 2014 04:35 pm (UTC)
I have just realised how slighting my comment must have seemed about petitions and the like - it actually wasn't intended to come out that way! I do apologise! I was mostly intending to agree that poorly-constructed petitions aren't useful, and that you need a petition to be clear about what it is campaigning *for* as well as against.

Ahem. Sorry about that!

Feeling slightly conflicted about the climate thing, because I took my first long-distance air flights in *years* recently, and I have spent all this time denying myself perfectly good holidays, conferences and experiences in an effort not to contribute to climate change too much, and - well - I really enjoyed my holiday, and want to think that perhaps I might be able to go again sometime. Oh dear. Principles, I had them once...

miwahni: Dr Who nyantardismiwahni on March 11th, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
No worries, I didn't read it as being condescending at all, just pointing out a truth. I've encouraged people to write individual letters protesting government change in the past, due to the fact that one individual letter carries about the same weight as 100 signatures on a petition.

It's hard, isn't it, when conscience meets real life. Does your airline offer to charge you a green levy or similar, where you pay a little bit more for your flight but the extra is put towards carbon reduction programs? Qantas does it on domestic flights, not sure about international ones, and the funds used go towards establishing new forests to act as carbon sinks. The idea is that you're reducing the carbon footprint of your flight. It's one way of assuaging your conscience just a little bit. :-)