#Slacktivism: Is it vandalizing real activism?

Stacy McCoy and I had a great conversation via  Twitter about slacktivism the other day, so we felt a blog debate was  the best way to try and settle it. Be sure to head over and check out her post here – http://mymusingmind.wordpress.com/ – after reading mine, of course!
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Slacker.

Activism.

Slacktivism.

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flickr photo by birgerking

Wikipedia says- “The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction”.

Urban Dictionary says – “The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.”

Mashable says - “So called ‘slacktivists’ take easy, social actions in support of a cause – signing a petition, liking a Facebook Page or putting a pink ribbon on their avatar.” (Well the author was Katya Andreson)

From March 6th to the 8th, we saw a lot of this – #Kony2012, #stopkony, Make Kony Famous, Invisible Children. (Heck, we are still seeing a lot of it) The Kony 2012 video that aired on Vimeo and YouTube has over 100 million views and counting! There were more posts on Facebook on March 6th, 7th, and 8th about Kony and Invisble Children than the new iPad announcement (Nice post @notothequo).  Oprah tweeted about it (and seem kind of annoyed that people didn’t know that she already supported Invisible Children).

Everybody who's tweeting me about #LRA I've helped. Gave Major dollars had Invisible Children on my show 2x. showing #STOPKONY Mar 18 #OWN
@Oprah
Oprah Winfrey

The call-to-action of Invisible Children’s video about Kony 2012 is to raise awareness about what Joseph Kony is doing to children in Uganda to put the pressure on the American government to keep advisers in Uganda to help the army there capture Kony. And, it sparked A LOT of conversation on the twittersphere and other social media sites.

The conversation had arguments from both sides of the coin.  Those supporting Invisible Children‘s efforts and those who have pointed out mistakes and misleading facts in the video.

These are two of the better posts I have read in opposition to the Kony 2012 video:

- Solving War Crimes with Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012′
- Kony 2012: Causing more harm than good

And you can read Invisible Children’s director respond to these critiques on the Today Show’s website:

- Maker of ‘Kony 2012′ video deflects critics, urges action

One thing that has stuck with me throughout the entire thing, though, is the word “SLACKTIVISM”.  One word, and I can’t get over it.  Since the first time I saw it, I know that it has had a negative connotation.  Just read the definitions above, again. But then read Katya’s post on Mashable.

I LIKE SLACKTIVISM.

Yes, personally, I like slacktivism.  People are now doing more research on Invisible Children, Joseph Kony and Tri.  People who may just be on Twitter to follow celebrities now know about Kony and Invisible Children.  People who keep their Facebook private and use it only to connect with close friends know about children in Uganda and other African nations who are being kidnapped and forced to be in an army.  All because of clicks, shares and retweets.

This knowledge may only be “profile picture” deep, but in this new world of technology, having your cause heard once is a start.  Then, that person may hear it again.  That person may overhear two other people talking about the cause at a coffee shop.  Next thing you know, the wheels are spinning.  “What is this Kony 2012?” “Who are Invisible Children?” “I need to figure this out”.

I like slacktivism.  It gets people talking.  When people talk, they project.  They project through Facebook & Twitter.  When people start hearing about these things in other places, they research.  Through slacktivism, you just got millions of people to be awareWhich, in my opinion, increases your chances of increasing the number of people who act.

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I DISAGREE, WILLIE! I TOTALLY DISAGREE! Hey readers, check out why I disagree with Willie” – Stacy McCoy. Read her post here and join the conversation.  You can leave a comment or tweet either of us – @Willie_Matis & @StacyMccoy.
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Do you think slacktivism is good?
Do you think it is vandalizing real activism and offline activists’ work?
Join the conversation! Tweet me.

2 thoughts on “#Slacktivism: Is it vandalizing real activism?

  1. Kris T. , INDY

    Willie-
    I think you’re on to something here. This “slacktivism” is really another way of saying that twitter and facebook are doing what they were designed to do. Namely, spread information.

    When you’re advocating or advertising, its a matter of numbers. How many sets of eyes can you put your cause, brand, business, campaign etc… in front of? (WARNING: Cliche fishing analogy ahead) In other words, the more fish you can get in your net, the more keepers you’ll have. IMHO, “slacktivism,” lazy as it seems, is a natural and very useful by-product of the rise of social media.

    That being said, slacktivism does present a challenge to those true believers and advocators. How do you turn slacktivists, the wall flowers of social media, into active participants? No, idea. I’m just a teacher on lunch break. I leave that for Willie to answer in a future blog post (you’re welcome, Willie).

    Reply
    1. Willie_Matis Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Kris! I appreciate the blog post idea, too.

      It is tough to make sure to get your call to action right the first time, but slacktivism gives you a CHANCE at next step engagement. We have had some good debate on Twitter so far. Keep your eyes peeled for the next post.

      Reply

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