Opinion: Are signing petitions a waste of time?

Hiya, well I was pondering on what to say next really. In the last few days and weeks, there has been so much news everywhere, from international affairs, tragedies of what has been happening in other countries aswell as stuff which has been going on in the bloody UK. Now then, with all these issues with far less knowledge of them than what I ought to have, I wasn’t sure what to write about. Maybe I could try to raise awareness on one of these issues (again), but there are so many brilliant people already doing so, educating us and helping us attain a better, clearer understanding. Meanwhile there are many issues we still generally don’t seem to have enough knowledge about, maybe things which have hit us in the last few weeks. However I don’t want to be writing something fictitiously, relying on the first piece of information given to me from google search. Rather I would like to get a more rounded image on what is going on, before I say too much.

But thinking about this, it is great that there have been so many fab people raising awareness on online platforms, so we end up being far more informed than what we would be otherwise. Which also enables us to see the need for change more clearly. And what is a better way of doing so than by signing petitions?

Image result for make a change #
We can make a change!

Yet I know that it is quite easy to become a little complacent when we are now confronted with so many petitions day to day, and we end up becoming rather reluctant to sign each and every one of these. Take the petitions which have been flooding Instagram in the past few weeks. It is unquestionably brilliant that we have taken such an interest in these issues the petitions have been addressing recently, nonetheless I am sure I am not the only one who’s hesitated before or after signing one of these, thinking what difference is my signature actually going to make to the cause- let alone the rest of the world! As while seeing so many petitions receiving so many signatures is very reassuring, making me think that people are genuinely showing more concern about the perturbed state of the world. But then I question whether this spike in signings is just going to die down again, as we become immersed in our own lives once again, and when posting awareness pictures and links on Instagram stories are no longer perceived as a “cool” thing to do.

So I recently heard that the most common platform for sharing petitions (change.org) kept a fat lump of money made from petitions for themselves, as opposed to donating it all/most of it to the cause. Meanwhile they are not fussy about what petitions they will have, meaning they are most likely to have a petition completely against the cause that you are signing for- on their same bloody website. Now did that surprise me? No of course it didn’t… It is just a platform for sharing petitions. But then would it not be better to only sign petitions that aren’t on their website. The issue is, is that they are the most used platform, and unless you are famous, you cannot really make a petition on a different specific website go viral. So then could we say that it is simply better to just donate to a charity of that cause, rather than frazzling about with signing petitions and donating to probably a very wealthy so and so, who will use most of it to go towards a new Ferrari, or to piss up against a wall. Rather than using it to constructively help the cause you are advocating.

See the source image

Yet there are some other platforms where you can create and sign petitions such as http://www.thepetitionsite.com where you can easily create petitions as well as sign them, however generally fewer petitions use this platform, and these petitions generally get fewer signatures but they do focus on similar issues including human and animal rights. There is also not the option to “chip in” or at least if there is, I cannot see it, meanwhile it is far quicker and easier to sign them. So we all win! Now back to the money aspect, I think we can conclude that it would be a waste of money to donate via change.org but if you have the money and feel passionate about the cause, then do donate to charities which help with this matter. Whether it be “Best friends animal society” who are non profit and are “dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters”, “building effective programmes which reduce the number of animals in shelters” as well as taking in animals themselves for care. Whilst there are ways anyone can act in a way to help the cause you feel passionate about. Such as supporting black businesses, living a more sustainable lifestyle or by further educating yourself and others. This way society can have a direct influence on the world, without even touching politics!

Woman with long wavy red hair holding an orange tabby cat over her shoulder
Taken from the Bestfriends” animal rights website. Now I would happily adopt this cat!

But with so numerous ways off having a strong positive influence on matters which concern you, why would you choose to sign a petition to be a thousandth, hundred-thousandth or millionth of those who are also signing it, when there is no guarantee (in some cases very unlikely) that anyone will even act upon it? Think of the petition for there to be a second EU referendum, in which over 4 million people signed. Well in this context it may seem irrelevant, however there have been many occasions where petitions have had a positive influence on the outcome. The petition to not let Boris Prorogue parliament got nearly 1.5 million signatures, which resulted in the supreme court declaring his act as unlawful. And even if it doesn’t look like there is any outcome, often there is but it may just be more discreet. The results from that petition could have been the reason why a second referendum was part of Labor’s manifesto in 2019, meanwhile if the signing of petitions shows that there are demands to finally tackle racism. I would think or at least hope that the government would eventually have to do something….

Though we cannot overestimate the effects of these, because the result of petitions does only show a small faction of public opinion, rather than what the majority believe. Which means that even if a couple of million sign one, showing that they support a certain cause, it doesn’t mean that it will be taken seriously by the government- if it seems that the majority of the population are hostile to the cause. Nevertheless we still need to be accounted for, therefore participation in petitions is still far more effective than nothing. While can you think of a more pragmatic way educating and encouraging others to begin supporting our cause, than letting them potentially have a direct influence on the outcome of this?

Furthermore in recent years, governments and political parties have always been influenced by public opinion, even including protests. Where at worst many people become aggressive toward the cause, yet this draws lots of attention to the cause while at best all of the poor political parties end up having to put some of the cause into their manifestos; meaning that public opinion is finally going to end up having to become government policy. Because our own education, has caused us to become swung on an issue, meaning that if a certain party brushes off the environment, they may be at risk of either losing. While we never know, but they may finally see it as an important issue themselves. While petitions differ further, by firstly showing a numerical value suggesting the number of people who support this cause, meanwhile there has to be a key number of signatures in order for this to be debated in parliament. Therefore those in power can see how many support a certain cause. And while these actions don’t always win, they sometimes do, and even if they don’t, we are in effect educating our and the next generation (well if they decide to get off tik tok!) . So why would you want to not be part of this?

See the source image
Yep, it is very important to still sign petitions after all…

To conclude I would disagree that signing petitions are always a waste of time, as there have been cases when signing one has lead to action which would not have taken place otherwise. And even without this, it would be much harder to measure our views on some cases plus why would we want to throw away our only means of direct democracy. However it is fair to day that politicians can be rather slow to act upon these, and it can often seem that our aimless clicks are mounting to absolutely nothing. Yet we cannot give up. As we need to remember although they may be flawed, they do still have influence. Alongside ways of educating ourselves and others about the issues the world is facing, as this way we are all collectively contributing to changing the society we live in, making it a better place for everyone.

“Individual efforts can bring excellence, but collective efforts can bring efficiency”

Narendra Modi

Finally I would mention that it is so important to keep on signing petitions which are meaningful whenever; regardless of whether the cause is trending or not. Take the recent petitions relating to the Black Lives Matter movement, and police brutality. As while we can see that the signing of these petitions have lead to some of of these tragic cases finally being investigated, after all the effort we have done, we cant now allow ourselves to turn a blind eye to the numerous injustices fueled by racism which take place every day! Which is just proof that these do work. While though there has been little outcry about animal rights in recent months, there is still an enormous issue which needs to be addressed.

Now I would probably agree that browsing the web for every single petition would be extremely difficult, but it is important to try to sign (and share) what you are able to. Follow sites which share information, continue to take proactive action and continue to question our own standings on issues, to improve society for ourselves and for others.

Published by Personally_Political

Hello! This is a mainly a blog containing posts concerning social, political and economic issues, although the commentary is mainly based on opinion. My name is Victoria, and I am the creator and currently the only contributor to this blog, and I am 19 years old and studying PPE at Swansea. Also, I am currently looking for writers for here, content creators on Instagram and designers. However the role would be very flexible according to what you would like to do. Therefore, if you or anyone you know would be interested in getting involved, then please don't hesitate to contact me at vickyyrose.02@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Opinion: Are signing petitions a waste of time?

  1. Reblogged this on Uniquely You and commented:
    I feel like this post should be shared worldwide. I myself have wondered several times whether there is truly an importance of signing petitions. Thanks for sharing. Follow this blogger for more thought provoking articles.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I completely agree with you. Sometimes it seems like a waste of time to sign petitions, but they are a good way of raising awareness on important issues. And even if they don’t lead to direct results, the increased education is itself valuable. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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