Online civic engagement is not always a positive experience

By | April 4, 2019
man holding phone and angry face emoji icon
(Sarita Rungsakorn/rawpixel)

Online civic engagement is generally viewed as a positive way for individuals to improve the quality of life in their community. But new research led by School of Information associate professor Libby Hemphill suggests that online civic engagement doesn’t always feel good, and it doesn’t always improve the community.

Hemphill and her team interviewed 40 nonprofit employees and their affiliates, exploring nonprofit social media adoption, feelings of community attachment, and civic engagement. They found the interview subjects view online civic engagement as “frequently uncomfortable.”

“Most literature on civic engagement centers on ‘Yay! Engagement is great! It makes the world a better place!’” says Hemphill. “But sometimes these engagements don’t feel good. Sometimes they are disruptive or destructive. Sometimes they make things worse.”