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Screaming into the void

Online petitions lull people into thinking that they are ‘doing something’, ‘taking action’, ‘being heard’ … when they aren’t. It’s easy to click on a link, fill in a form, and assume that you’ve done your bit. You haven’t. If you believe strongly in something, strongly enough to formally protest … then do a little research. Find out how change is actually effected. Then take action. It may take a while, it may be hard work, but if you really want to make a difference you need to accept that clicking, retweeting, and sharing vague statements of support is not going to cut the mustard.

There’s a plan to redevelop part of Glasgow’s city centre. As it happens, I think it’s a good plan, but some residents don’t like the idea of a certain set of outdoor steps being removed and replaced. So a ‘campaign’ was started by a local newspaper and spread as an online petition. Here’s what has happened:

Currently an online petition to save the steps has over 12,000 signatures. However, the official planning application on Glasgow City Council's website has only two comments from members of the public protesting the removal of the steps.

So 12,000 (ish) people have clicked a handy link on their Facebook feed and then sat back, satisfied with their contribution. Two people took the time to click a different link on the City Council website, where their comments would actually be considered. Two.

If that were a cause I cared about, I would be angry at the thousands of people creating ineffectual noise whilst pointedly avoiding doing anything practical.

If you want to complain about something, think about who to contact and how. Do it properly and you might actually effect change.

This is my 5th article and is 291 words long.

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