It seems like every day a new cause comes to our attention online and begins to trend on social media. Some of the causes take off and trend for weeks and months, like the Ice Bucket Challenge. Other things trending on the internet, like the way the new Ken Doll looks, fizzle out in no time.
The Ken Doll’s image, or what the Kardashians did today, really has no barring on anything. It just doesn’t matter. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or the #bringbackourgirls campaign and other causes do matter though. For many causes in today’s society, they may not start on social media, but they definitely pick up steam on social media.
When you consider the reach of Twitter and Facebook, it’s clear that social media is a powerful tool when trying to bring a cause to light and rally for support. The issue becomes however, is anyone actually doing anything once a cause is brought to their attention on social media, or are they just jumping at the opportunity to do what everybody else is doing online, with the fear of missing out? Are they dumping a bucket of ice water on their head and then donating to the ALS Association, or are they just trying to make a viral video? Are they hash-tagging a message saying they support a community affected by natural disaster and then logging off their computer, or are they also sending actual support in way of a donation of money or needed items?
I’ve had this idea bouncing around for a while, that just because someone retweets something in support of a cause, or changes their profile picture, doesn’t mean they are actually doing anything. It’s more of a gesture to feel apart of the group or gain popularity than it is out of the kindness of your heart or actually supporting a cause in my opinion.
This clearly isn’t a unique thought, I just didn’t know their was a term for it, until now. Slacktivism claims support to different causes, while accomplishing very little other than just high trending numbers for a week or two. Sometimes, wearing a t-shirt or wrist band to show unity is all that is needed. For example, Pink Shirt Day is a great cause where trending and raising awareness is more vital than raising funds. In most cases however, doing more is necessary.
If someone is not showing actual support, via funds or action plan, etc., they are actually doing nothing. It’s important when it comes to activism to garner interest, get people talking and to trend, but a next step has to be taken. Our ECMP class spoke about how slacktivism has been around for a while, only now it’s online compared to the bumper of your car in the past.
Saying and doing are two different things. Likes on Facebook isn’t real social change. It can be a great spring board into something bigger. When you like something on Facebook, retweet a message of hashtag a cause on Twitter try to make it the starting point for activism, not an end point. Don’t be satisfied with doing the bare minimum, or being what could be considered the personal responsible citizen. Those actions can get the conversation started or get the ball rolling, but taking it another step is where social change and real activism will happen. In order to really make a difference, do more. Donate, join the cause, live what you are standing behind; that’s when real change, for whatever cause you are supporting, will happen.