Like many, I struggle with the concept of Earth Hour, and while we’re at it, Earth Day as well. I have a love-hate relationship with them. On the one hand, I’m proud that my hometown reduced more electricity than any other community in BC (for the second year in a row!), reducing total electricity by more than 7%. On the other hand, I think – so what? These token events can seem to trivialize the revolution that is necessary for our survival. I’ve heard the same said about how pink ribbons insult cancer survivors. And yet. Is there benefit to jumping on the bandwagon?
Bandwagon effect: a phenomenon whereby the rate of belief or behaviour uptake increases more when they have already been adopted by others. As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon.” Bandwagons have momentum.
Here’s the problem with making activism trendy: the true message gets lost in translation, and important events become more social than purposeful. But here’s the problem when activism isn’t trendy: the message remains intact and no one comes to the party. You know those kinds of parties: the cocktail conversation is intelligent, but there’s not much energy in the room. It feels a little cold and impersonal.
Because that’s what revolutions need, isn’t it? The message needs to get picked up and played with, it needs room to morph through all those messy social processes and yes, lose its original meaning. And maybe in the end, that’s the purpose of international events – for them to represent all of humanity, the full spectrum of our brilliance and madness. Revolutions, as they say, are not quiet events.
So I’ll wear my ribbons and buttons and wave the flag for Earth Day. And I’ll rejoice in how it has evolved from its origin into something much bigger and more democratic. For those of you looking to leap onto the bandwagon, my friends and colleges at SES Consulting are hosting a full day of fun not to be missed. Check out their Earth Work Day schedule and be part of the action!