According to the online Urban Dictionary, slacktivism is, “The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.” The person who wrote that definition obviously has and opinion, and it is one with which I happen to agree. Used by a number of causes and groups, slacktivism has become the lazy person’s way to take a stand. It comes across as self-congratulatory. A person feels good about publicly expressing support or concern for a cause, usually through social media.
Why Organizations Use Slacktivism
Slacktivism costs the slacktivist very little or nothing at all. Just click “like” or “retweet” and you’ve taken a stand for justice. To project deeper commitment to the cause, a person might change their profile picture or wear a T-shirt and wristband. Slacktivists are on all sides of the political spectrum and “active” on a number of different social issues.
According to a recent Washington Post article on how effective is slacktivism by Laura Seay, organizations try to use slacktivism as a low cost way to build awareness for their cause. In that sense, it is effective. These organizations also hope that people motivated to do a mouse click might decide to have deeper involvement. Ironically, according to researchers public acts of slacktivism such as a Facebook post is less likely to lead the person to a deeper commitment than a private one. A private act such as writing a congressman is more likely to lead to deeper involvement that a public act such a like on Facebook or a tweet.
Becoming Active and Creating Change
Slacktivism appeals to our consumerist tendencies. It allows us to be express outrage or support regarding an endless number of causes in a cost effective and convenient manner. However, how many lives have really been changed because someone clicked “like” on Facebook?
Here are some better ideas when it comes to changing the world:
1. Do something that is costly such as giving time and money to the cause that you support.
2. Do research about the issue. Understand why things are as they are and what are the challenges to bringing about change. Knowledge helps one to know how they can better support a cause.
3. Touch lives instead of computer keys. Liking a picture to help the homeless may seem like a stand, but a homeless person may appreciate the time that you give to a shelter more. If you are concerned about hunger, volunteer to work in a church’s food pantry. Go out and touch the lives of those who need help.
4.Communicate your concern or outrage to those who can bring about change. Last time I checked, my congressman was not following me on either Facebook or Twitter. If they are going to know my opinion, I have to write their office or call it.
If you want to cause change, be active in trying to make it happen. Don’t be a slacker.