Questioning the name part II: "with a cause?"

(1) "With a Cause" -- We asked ourselves what being a digital native means. Discussions were fascinating. But we haven't deconstructed the second part of our found names (if you cal it that): "with a cause."

What does that mean, in particular for a digital native.


Do all digital natives have a cause? And, if we are uncomfortable asking questions about (and answering them for) others, what does your personal experience say--how did you come to have a cause? How was that affected by your 'digital nativity,' and vice-versa? Ritika said, I think, that she explored many digital ideas *because* of her cause. I am similar -- my cause has definitely re-inforced my digital fluency. The relationship between (digital) activity and activism have redefined how I label my activities, as productive or frivolous. But at the same time, they have also confused them. I think there is much depth here to explore.


So I ask us: how do our causes and digital native-ness interact and intersect? How do they re-inforce or confuse each other? (Your question around these two here)?

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A Cause can be one’s raison

Cole's picture

A Cause can be one’s raison d’etre, a reason for existence. It can begin with a concern that grows into a passion. Not all digital natives dedicate their professional and personal lives for a cause such as social justice, the eradication of poverty, equity and food for all. On the other hand, the majority of people who do work for a cause are not exactly digital natives. Since nativity means “being borne into” the oldest among us who have been borne into a digital environment are still in their late twenties or early thirties, just about the age when one starts to realize his/her passion in life or a cause he/she wants to pursue. But causes have existed waaaay before we actually came up with the tag, digital native, right?

Our causes do influence our digital nativity, in the same manner as our analog predecessors. Our predispositions, preferences and habits in using our digital tools (and toys) are all influenced by the causes that we hold dear. Personally, my blog stems from a conviction that cultural understanding is the key to cohesion in a world full of conflict (or simple wanting to travel the world and share my experiences for (hopefully) possible understanding of one's culture). My digital camera is used as a tool to combat food insecurity in my work (or at least before my camera hit rockbottom in the waters of Thailand two weeks ago :'((( ). From the day we decide to pair our causes with -, the web and our digital devices –we became aware that the digital medium becomes our message. Within the process of implementing our campaigns/causes, we also feel the strong influence of that medium. We are constantly challenged by how this medium can be so helpful yet frustrating at times. Then we wake up one day and realize…This is what I was supposed to do all along. Or something to that effect.

Quoting Cole's parting lines,

Hasina's picture

Quoting Cole's parting lines, "This is what I was supposed to do all along". The silent affirmation within ourselves, that deep sense of morals which drives us towards a cause and what sets DNs with a cause apart from users of technology; I feel that is what makes us DNs with a cause.

Morals cannot be rationalised, I feel, we do it because it is our calling. Without intending to make it sound like a nirvanic revelation, it almost sounds like that's what I'm saying.

But that's what I feel it is. Our calling and in this era where the Internet and digital medium are tools, that's what we work with; our arms, if you may.

1. "Cause" as in "Digital

tettner's picture

1. "Cause" as in "Digital Natives with a cause" or "I have a cause"
refers to an inherent human motivation: passion. What passions you?
what do you want to dedicate your time doing? what would you do even
if you didn't get paid? For example, if I could, I would teach and
learn all day long. I am passionate about sharing information with
others. How did you all find out what moves you?

I found this interesting link on that:

In the digital world, causes are influenced both horizontally and
vertically, meaning: a. There are more causes to choose from. We all
know you can become a supporter of Barack Obama in Cairo, and advocate
for the rights of homosexuals in India from your home in Taipei. This
means it is much easier to find that which you are passionate about,
in the digital age. b. Once you have found what you are passionate
about, digital technologies allow you to dig deeper into your topic of
interest. Like many other areas of life, digital technologies have
both given depth and breadth to people's causes.

2. Do all digital natives have causes? no. But that's because not all
people in general have causes. I think that finding what you are
passionate about is a process, many times trial-and-error, and with
many constraints (economic, cultural, gender) this more often-than-not
does not happen. Is it easier to find a cause in the digital age?
probably. How do you all think the supporters of Martin Luther King or
Nelson Mandela organized rallies of over 100.000 people without email,
without Facebook etc.

An interesting NYT articles on that:

3. Does your cause influence your nativity or vice-versa? in what
ways? Awesome question Prabhas, thank you. I'd like to hear from more
of you all before I share my views.

Being a digital native helped

Maesy's picture

Being a digital native helped me more in finding my cause rather than in taking action for the cause.

The event that first planted the seed that led me to activism and feminism is the May 1998 mass riots and rapes against the Chinese that became the catalyst for the downfall of a 32-years dictatorship (if you want to know more, I wrote about that incident last year here: That's when I started questioning all sorts of things related to gender, the body, feminism... and being a Chinese Indonesian myself, I was very uncomfortable with the idea of talking about it with my mom or anyone else. Thank goodness for Yahoo! (Google was not as popular way back then); I could just type in my curiosities and questions and somehow found feminism. The Internet was how (or where?) I transformed the questions posed by my real-life experience into a cause, but I chose to do real-life actions to take up my cause because that's how I think I could reach people around me - not because I don't believe in digital activism.

So Prabhas, to answer your question, the link for me so far is that being digital led me to my cause. Maybe in a few years (or even months) time I will find that it also leads me to actively taking up the cause.

I don't have a cause

nishant's picture

I don't have a cause 'cause... One of the chief questions that we are asking throughout this research inquiry is indeed one of the Cause. I personally am fed up of the kind of pressure that is put upon digital natives to constantly be champions of a cause. And I don't mean just Save the Dolphins slacktivism. I am worried that the only DN stories that seem to be worth hearing are about superheroes who have dramatically changed the world. and which is why, the title "digital natives with a cause?" has a question mark in it.

Because change, is not always (in fact very seldom) dramatic. Change is a constant and it happens on an idle Wednesday when you are not looking. Change doesn't always have to be external, to be huge, to be mappable, to be quantified. Change is often slow, tenuous, contextual and inscrutable. And the point of being a Digital Native is that you are within conditions of change; you have new tools and technologies at your disposal, and that, if, when, motivated, you might be able to orchestrate and mobilise patterns of change.

Which is why, the cause is not in your politics (in the narrow sense of espousing a political ideology) but in the idea of being political - which is what we started the workshop discussion with. Awesome question Prabhas. Do you want to post this to the rest of the junta over email? That could be the third question we can discusss.


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