Slacktivism

Slacktivism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Just came across this interesting (relatively) new term:

Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. It is a pejorative term that describes taking painless “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. A person that engages in such activity is called a slacktivist.

Examples of slacktivist activities include signing internet petitions, the wearing of wristbands (“awareness bracelets“) with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, joining a Facebook group, posting issue-oriented YouTube videos or taking part in short-term boycotts such as Buy Nothing Day or Earth Hour.

In a statement on Snopes.com, Barbara Mikkelson states:

We can’t claim credit for having coined this term, nor do we know its actual origin, but we love it nonetheless. Slacktivism is the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without actually getting one’s hands dirty, volunteering any of one’s time, or opening one’s wallet. It’s slacktivism that prompts us to forward appeals for business cards on behalf of a dying child intent upon having his name recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records or exhortations to others to continue circulating a particular e-mail because some big company has supposedly promised that every forward will generate monies for the care of a languishing tot. Likewise, it’s slacktivism that prompts us to want to join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its defining characteristic is its central theme of doing good with little or no effort on the part of the person inspired to participate, through the mechanisms of forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing.[1]

A thought-provoking idea – essentially, what lots of non-profits and advocacy campaigns consider “cutting-edge” or “new” ways of engaging people is perhaps (worse than) ineffective?

I would argue that it’s only slacktervism if it’s not a gateway to further engagement.  So, the challenge for effective advocacy campaigns is to make sure that their e-petitions, awareness bracelets, etc are ways for people to start a deeper commitment to the cause.

Update:

I’m reminded, via this WikiTalk discussion, that this idea isn’t really all that new – it’s a common idea with a new name, formerly know as “Armchair Activism”.  However, I think that Slacktervism is something a little new in that it better captures my generations stated desires to change the world, which are frequently not accompanied by any kind of sacrifice to do so…

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About Martha Heinemann Bixby

Advocacy. Politics. Life. Martha Heinemann Bixby.
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