Blogging Activism: making a difference?


Image credit: fibonacciblue

The Tots100 represents more than 1,000 of the UK’s top Mummy bloggers, and more than a few Dads, too.

It is an enormously diverse community and one with a range of different beliefs and values. Last week saw some debate about the ongoing Nestle boycott that some bloggers are involved in, and we invited one of the bloggers involved, Christine from Thinly Spread, to share her views on ethical blogging with us.

We also took the opportunity to survey 200 of our members about their views of online activism and charity campaigns. We found that 40% of Tots100 bloggers have written about charities in the past year, and most have supported an online campaign by donating cash, Tweeting or joining a Facebook group. Check out the findings at the end of this post and tell us what you think – can bloggers really make a difference?

And now, over to our guest blogger, Christine:

He who Stands for Nothing will Fall for Anything, by Christine Mosler

Ethical blogging is a huge subject – for some it’s about transparency and honesty, for others it’s about integrity and fairness. For still others, it’s about trying to change the world one small post at a time.

For me, blogging is an extension of my ‘real’ world, and in the ‘real’ world I am a vegetarian, school governor, Nestle boycotter, a passionate defender of human rights and the environment and a supporter of many charities and organisations. I shop and consume as ethically as I can within my own boundaries; I have drawn my own line in the sand and that line exists in my virtual life just as it does in ‘real’ life.

This means that I have turned down offers of CyberMummy sponsorship from a company that would clash with my vegetarianism. I have returned, un-reviewed, a product that I felt was an over-packaged waste of resources, and I have declined invitations to blogger events that, to me, were all about advertising, marketing and consumerism.

Each individual blogging voice might be small, but when a group of like-minded people get together and talk, there is always the potential to bring about change. That is what excited me about working within the blogging community.

When the government tried to sell off the forests, the huge groundswell of opinion made them backtrack quickly and, as a family, we really enjoyed taking part in that process. My children saw for themselves that small voices do count, that it is important to speak out and make yourself heard; that you can make a difference.

When I attended the Save the Children bloggers’ conference last week and heard how three blogging Mums had reached out to 20 million people, how their blogging and tweeting took them to meet Nick Clegg and onto the BBC news and how important that was to the people at Save the Children, my heart was warmed.

It is my personal choice to blog ethically, but I absolutely blog with respect. I do not  expect individuals in the online community to share my views any more than I do my ‘real’ life friends or the people I pass on the street. To some people, ethical consumerism and shopping is pointless; it will not change companies’ minds and it will not change the world.

Some people may believe that supporting the work of charities and aid agencies by tweeting and blogging seems a miniscule drop in a very big ocean. To others, the issues are so big and complex it is easier not to get involved and I respect that. One of the joys of the blogging world is dipping in and out of so many different conversations from so many different lives.

I do, however, expect to be able to express my opinions freely, and for organisations which represent the blogging community to reflect and respond to those opinions, where they are held by a majority of that community. As an example, the speedy removal of a Nestle logo from this site, following a calm and considered discussion of the issues involved, was an admirable thing to see.

As an ethical blogger, there are constant challenges and choices to face; but perhaps the most powerful thing we have as bloggers is a platform for conversation – and if we keep talking, then we can achieve amazing things together.


Sally Whittle is founder of the Tots100, Foodies100, BlogSummit and the MAD Blog Awards. When she's not working, she can be found blogging at Who's the Mummy, or having fun with her 8 year old daughter, Flea.

Discussion14 Comments

  1. Your blog post has made me realise why I love reading blogs and Twitter. Blogs are in the main a view into people’s lives and their ethics and some of my favourite blogs are those of people who have strong ethics. I often don’t share their views but I still love reading what they have to say. Same goes for Twitter.

  2. Fabulous Christine. it is only in the last few years that I have started to undertsand more about how I can make small steps to help change our world for the better. I love being able to blog about causes that I feel strongly about. In the last year I have had so many emails, tweets and messages about how people have been touched by what I have written and have started to seek help, realise they have a problem or think about their own impact that it makes me so proud to be a blogger.

    Also know what you mean about turning down products/ events that do not suit your own values. I got offered advertising for the site recently for chocolate, well for someone who advertises herself as a recovering food addict that would be a tad hyprocritical!

    Keep on blogging…

    Mich x

    • That is fantastic Michelle! I am always bemused by PR/marketing approaches which have clearly not read my blog or even my bio.

      I am happiest when I am blogging about something which matters to me whether that is something one of my children has achieved, something we have enjoyed doing or something which has touched my soul and I need to write about. Blogging is a wonderful thing!

  3. Great post, Christine – a really interesting read. There are a lot of people who mention boycotts or beliefs but aren’t prepared to explain their own reasons for being involved. Sometimes ignorance (my own included) is born through not having enough information.

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