Mar 20, 2012

Finding an outlet

With the power behind social networking, we’ve really seen the speed at which ideas can travel and how quickly people can latch onto a cause. The most recent example of this is the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children. Don’t worry I am not going to delve into that particular subject; there are many others who have added their voices from both sides.

What I am focusing on here is activism versus slactivism. Slactivism is by definition “the public proclaiming of one's political beliefs through activities that require little effort or commitment.” These passive forms of protest and/or support aren’t a new thing; they are just more visible from our Facebook pages, Twitter timelines and blogs.

It’s easy to look at this condescendingly but I think we do that to our own detriment. While not everybody who likes the “Feel your boobies” Facebook page will actually donate money towards breast cancer research, I believe those users are more likely to do more reading about the disease and educate themselves about self examinations, yearly screenings, etc. Which is a good thing, right?

Awareness is one step. Action is the next.

We need to realise that not everyone who jumps onto a cause by sharing a video or article is going to be the proverbial ‘boots on the ground’ person doing the work that needs to be done. Instead of simply sneering with self righteousness about your personal stints in the slums and hinterlands of god-knows what country, how about forging those online interactions into something tangible that truly effects change? Don’t be quick to scream expletives at the unlearned. Instead use it as a teachable moment to spread truth and provide meaningful outlets for those who have the means and interest to support the cause.

And understand that there are others who will be merely satisfied with ‘liking’ posts and wearing a trendy bracelet. Keep it moving...


Great post! Love the phrase 'slactivism'! You're right, though, that we shouldn't discount Facebook likers. Even if they do nothing personally, they are adding one more voice, and helping to spread the word, and maybe someone else will see that they 'liked' it and read about the issue and do something about it. One constant in activism from the days of petitions written with a quill pen up to today is that you never know which of the small actions you take is going to make the difference. They all add up. Today's slactivists are probably the people who before the internet would have done nothing at all, so that's progress, right?

Yes, indeed. Let's help provide the proper messaging, so people aren't misled by catchy half truths that steal 15 minutes of fame. Doing this ensures that those with interest can act when needed & spread the word.

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