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!