Helping the HEMP Party

In this weeks tutorial, we were asked to design an ‘outsider’political campaign for a micro-party in this year’s Federal Election. The micro-party that will be presented in my ‘campaign’ is the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, simply for the reason that social media has been on the case of the Australian government to legalise the drug.

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A few months ago, the Australian Government legalised medical marijuana, with a bill passing through parliament to allow those who suffer from chronic illness, to partake in using the drug.

Some of the questions that come to mind when creating a campaign is what do you need to consider, what kind of symbols do you reach for and which voters do you target and how you target them.

What do you need to consider?

This micro-party and this campaign may come across as controversial to particular people in society, whether it be from religious parties or the media. So one thing that should be considered is to make sure that the campaign isn’t presented as offensive.

Other things needed to consider is what tools that need to be used to promote this campaign and the resources available.

What kind of symbols do you reach for?

Within particular communities and societies, there are usually a range of symbols or words that are used amongst members of that community.

Which voters do you target? How?

Social media has allowed those with similar interests communicate and connect with one another. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram having dedicated pages to particular activities and events, even where you can like a page to which country you live in, allowing you to connect to those around you.

The voters that would be targeted in this campaign would be those who ‘like’ particular pages that promote marijuana use in Australia, through a series of social media posts ranging in different forms such as videos, posters and the occasional dank meme.

Slacktivism: Is it worth the effort?

Identified as the act of showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. Websites are now integrating social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook into their website interface to allow people to like, share and tweet an interesting topic without using any effort.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Bring Back Our Girls and the Kony 2012 are examples where simply clicking like or share made people feel good about helping the world by demonstrating their support for these causes. However, in reality, their likes, shares and retweets are only bringing this issues to light but not doing anything to solve the issue.

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According to Yu-Hao Lee and Gary Hsieh at Michigan State University, with their paper, ‘Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism?: The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism,’ they define slacktivism as “low-risk, low-cost activity via social media whose purpose is to raise awareness, produce change, or grant satisfaction to the person engaged in the activity.”

There is nothing wrong in posting, sharing and liking videos and articles. Bringing to light these issues may aggregate an active campaign, but without action, the impact is insignificant.

Hacktivism – Good vs Evil

Hackitivism has become increasingly popular over the years, with hacking groups targeting large organisations in a form of protest. Groups such as Lizard Squad and Anonymous have utilised their hacking abilities to ‘promote political ends, chiefly free speech, human rights, and information ethics.’ However, there has always been a split between whether or not hacktivism as an act considered good or evil.

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When an act of hacktivism occurs, most people usually point to Anonymous as the cause, due to their notoriety. From the church of scientology to the Australian government, Anonymous have used their resources to ensure that their goals of promoting political ends and information ethics can be achieved. Depending on perspective, one can consider this act as both good and evil. Media outlets and news corporations can see this as an opportunity to attack the group, while other members of society see this as a heroic act.

In some instances, hacktivism can become an inconvenience, again depending on who is effected by the hacktivists. For example, hacktivist group Lizard Squad, had annoyed a lot of gamers for hacking into the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live as well as PC game League of Legends. In this instance, the act of hacktivism can be seen as evil, because of the attack on things that people enjoy and use nearly everyday.

So is hacktivism good or evil? Well, it really depends on your perspective. Hacking is now considered a weapon, and like weapons, it can be used to be good or bad, to attack freedom or defend it.