3 years

slacktivism

Silent Activism

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Do you take part in online activism to make a difference, or does it just show your indifference?

Do you take part in online activism to make a difference, or does it just show your indifference?

Do you take part in online activism to make a difference, or does it just show your indifference?

Another V-Day has come and gone and one can’t help but recall the ‘fla­vour of last year sometime this month’, famously known as the ‘Pink Chaddi’ cam­paign. Fans of the aforementioned form of protest, though, won’t take kindly to what this sort of ‘demonstrating’ has come to be known as: Slacktivism.

On the other hand, there are many who feel the S-word is well-earned and a perfect descriptor for activism of the Pink Chaddi kind. They believe it has zero political rele­vance and only gives those who participate in such initiatives an illusion of making a difference without doing anything beyond signing up for a Facebook group.

For the time-strapped and sensitive peo­ple who want to show they care, it’s of­ten an easy choice between joining a fan page and instantly feeling good about oneself or haul­ing oneself for sit-ins, risk­ing arrest and maybe even a spot of police brutali­ty. Whether the former translates into any­thing more substan­tial than passing fancy is beside the ‘slacktiv­ist’ point.

Then again, it’s possi­ble to dismiss glib criti­cism of ‘slacktivism’ as a case of needless negativ­ity. After all, having thou­sands of previously ‘apa­thetic’ people unexpectedly indulging in a kind of rapid-fire ‘activism’ can prove use­ful in spreading awareness about causes that benefit from this kind of attention. But it does also raise a few tricky questions.

Questions like, are the publicity gains from new media worth the organisational losses traditional activism (are likely to) suf­fer on account of people preferring the on­line way to lessen the burden of guilt on their inertia-ridden souls over the more trying and ‘boring’ conventional forms of activism? Does the convenience of ‘click now and feel good’ push those who may have earlier con­fronted the problem in person to thought­lessly embrace the web’s ‘cause celebre’ of the season, but little else?

Human tendency is such that a signifi­cant percentage of ‘reluctant’ activists in our midst are content to take the undemand­ing way out, by going online. You wouldn’t think twice about join­ing a Facebook page devoted to gay rights called, say, ‘Give us a hand’. But would you (het­erosexual or otherwise) de­vote a couple of hours of your precious time to walk the road hand-in-hand with a fel­low-protestor (heterosexual or oth­erwise)? No, really.

That’s the power, and danger, of ‘slack­tivism’.