Monday, October 17, 2005

Petitions online just the first step

Take-Two Interactive is underfire again for one of their games -- Bully. This time, there's even an online petition hosted at petitionline.

All of this got me wondering about the effectiveness of online petitions. On one hand, it's great in that it generates press like that Business Week article. On the other hand, at least for me, I have absolutely no investment with whatever the issue is after signing a petition. How exactly does that raise civic participation? How does that get people more invested in their communities?

Back to the bully petition for example. While I can see the intent, what is being done in that particular state with regards to bullying? Some states look at anti-bullying legislation. Even on the federal level, this comes up now and again. Couldn't resources be directed towards enacting these laws locally and nationwide? If that's too broad, what about something on the local school district level?

If you choose to use an online petition to raise visibility of a cause, that's great. But remember to build from that and give people the option to do something more tangible, local and realistic to their own experiences. Whether (in the case of bullying) it's attending a school board meeting to talk of bullying, or volunteering at your kids school, etc, there's a lot of ways in which you can build greater civic engagement in addition to signing an online petition.

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