Is Slactkivism Really Slacking?

As it always seems to, Urban Dictionary provides a awkwardly accurate and funny definition of the word slacktivism; Oxford Dictionaries provides a slightly more objective and fair definition of the word.

Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.

In a time where activism happens so frequently on the internet, it is becoming easier and easier for people to say that they advocate for a certain movement.  It is also becoming easier and easier for people to criticize these online activists, referring to them as “slacktivists.”  But are these people really slackers?  Does what they are doing as online activists actually make a difference?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a very popular topic when it comes to online activism and slacktivism.  Will Oremus of Slate argues that simply posting a video of ice water being dumped on you is not enough.  His argument is that the videos being posted do nothing to raise awareness about ALS, and that money being donated is the best way to contribute to an organization or cause.  However, the ALS Association disagrees.

Do I have to donate if I take the challenge?

No, by participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge you’re already raising awareness of the disease! Making a donation, however, will help drive forward the search for treatments and a cure for ALS by funding cutting-edge research and supporting people living with the disease. So participating and donating is ideal.

While this FAQ and answer does mention that donating money is ideal, the ALS Association feels that just participating in an online conversation and movement is helping.

Abby Rosmarin of the Huffington Post agrees that slacktivism has a positive impact.  Her argument is also about awareness.  Here’s the thing about slacktivism: even if you aren’t donating to something or volunteering your time, the message about the issue is being spread to your hundreds of friends and followers.  And to their hundreds of friends and followers.  And to their hundreds of friends and followers.

When everyone is involved – not just those who spend their time on social issues, but those who spend their time on Facebook – it gets just a little bit easier to get what needs to get accomplished, accomplished.

People all over the internet become aware of certain issues, making it easier for the social or political problem to be solved.  Because of this, slacktivism is critical to modern day activism.  Because of the technology we have today, specifically social media, we are able to instantly be informed and involved in the current activism trends.

Although slacktivism is often criticized, this form of online activism truly makes a difference and raises awareness about the social and political changes happening in our country and around the world.  As long as you contribute to the conversation, share, and become aware of what is happening in the world, sometimes, it’s okay to be a slacktivist.

What do you think of slacktivism?  Have you ever been a slacktivist?  If so, for what movement or hashtag?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

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4 comments

  1. caitiw · November 5, 2015

    I would agree that the incredible resource of the internet and it’s vast communities are spreading content and increasing awareness of different causes and charities. Although I personally did not participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge I was present on Facebook and saw the content shared. Awareness was spread in most situations, but as the challenge progressed through social media, the attention was placed on the funny video uploaded and not the actually point of the charity, ALS awareness and donations. I think this is definitely one of the downfalls to online activism. ‘Slacktivism’ is an interesting term to use and in some ways very accurate to the situation. By spreading the topic we support only one half of the solution but once this content is shared, users tend to move on and leave the issue unresolved.

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  2. dwilson2811 · November 5, 2015

    I may be a hypocrite, but I do agree that slacktivism, even though not nearly effective as activism, is still really helpful to any cause. There are a lot of things that I am a slacktivist about, such as with a lot of pages that I like on Facebook about gun control issue, conservation, etc. However, I am more of the inclination to be more of an activist than a slacktivist, this is because I either don’t really care about a topic so I am neither a slacktivist or activist, or I really do care about a topic and I will be an activist. This may be different than most people in that they feel like they should do something even when it may not matter to them nearly as much as it does to someone else, probably to make them feel good. What are other peoples opinions?

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  3. murrdadog · November 5, 2015

    I like your point about slacktivism actually has a positive impact. There truly is a difference between doing nothing and doing anything. While it may appear that these people are doing nothing, the fact that they are spreading it to others and making it widespread is truly helpful because when influential rich people feel socially pressured to donate money, a lot gets done!

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