Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Politics and Self

In Tuesday's class, Professor Chun raised questions about TXTMob's self-proclaimed success, which got me thinking about the role of the self versus the output. The thing is, when presented with two options for charity: to do the work themselves (whether it's serving soup or flying out to Guatemala to build a house) or to write a check to an organization, people feel better when they do the former, saying they want to do something real or concrete. Even if the organization (and the poor) would be better served by a financial contribution than an unskilled family flying halfway around the world, people prefer the former. That it might not be the best option for those it effects, it reveals how acts of charity are more about self-gratification than...well, charity. Charity is enjoyable, even if divorced from effective end results. Participating in political activities can take on a similar feeling, as revealed by TXTMob. Though none of the campaigns succeeded in upending the RNC or whatnot, better organization and lower arrests made the experience of the protesters more satisfying. Its masturbatory quality hardly seems comparable to the actual change created by protests in the Philippines, even if these protests also induced feelings of pride or joy in those participating. Are political activities that "succeed" and "fail" totally divergent? And what it is exactly about said activities that brings us pleasure, whether they succeed or fail?

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