Click this, support that…am I a slacktivist?

There is a difference between a slacktivist and using ones own privilege to speak out against social injustices- isn’t there?

Slacktivism is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website or application:such email alerts make slacktivism easy

Social Justice is defined by the Business Dictionary as: The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.

Clearly, the definition of Social Justice is falling short of answering my question, as it lacks the piece about ‘creating the change’.  So, I went to the antonym of slacktivism, and looked up the definition of activism:

“The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change

I’m going to come back to this.

Does wearing ‘red’ on day ‘x’ mean that I more supportive of one cause than another? Does tweeting or sharing certain information mean I’m more passionate about one cause than another?  There are countless important things in this world, and there are many worthwhile causes – I think it is up to each individual to determine where their passion lies.

A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. –Scott Gilmore

There is a difference between the definition of ‘slacktivism’ and what Scott Gilmore portrays as a ‘slacktivist’.  While my argument is not that slacktivism is ‘difficult’, I certainly don’t believe that it is done for “show”.

Because of Twitter and YouTube, the habit of doing nothing, and doing it often, has become a defining element of our culture. –Scott  Gilmore 

Like it or not, the internet is here to stay.  It has become an imperative piece in our society -and there is power and privilege that comes with using the internet (and social media).  When Scott Gilmore deems Twitter and YouTube as “doing nothing, and doing it often” I beg to differ.  I’d ask you to tell Justine Sacco, Alex from Target , Damn Daniel, (to name a few) that social media is “doing nothing”.  I’m sure they would have vastly different accounts.

Getting back to the definition of activist and the ‘action’ piece.  Somehow we (society) has gotten to a point that wearing a coloured shirt or that sharing a hashtag is in fact taking a stand, and I don’t think that is a bad thing.  It means people are talking about injustices, it means that they are using their platform and privilege to express to others that “cause X” is important.

This week alone, I signed and shared an online petition that supports #decolonization #reconciliation and the #TRC in my city. Guess what?  It worked.  That’s #progress and #action – it’s not “doing nothing” online.

A recent study published in the research journal PLOS ONE found that online engagement is key to turning a protest into a social movement and in prolonging its lifespan. –Kate Groetzinger

While I think this research is promising, I am wary of being a ‘self-promoter’ and not a true supporter.

After watching this video, I feel that it’s really important to evaluate the tweets and FB posts that I am sharing.  Truth be told, I don’t think I share many ‘charitable’ tweets etc, unless I’m supporting it (read: donating/participating in).  I’m not sure how/why I would expect someone else to stand up for an organization if I am not doing it myself.

That being said, the following video speaks to the more positive side of being a ‘slacktivist’, this is the definition that aligns more with how I see sharing causes online.

My question when I started this post was… am I a slacktivist?

Do I raise awareness via Social Media?  Do I use my privilege and platform to engage in discussion and knowledge sharing?

Do I take ‘action’ by participating in?  Do I make donations?  Do I volunteer my time?

I’m still unsure about labeling myself as a ‘slacktivist’, there are positive and negative connotations that come with the term, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with all of them yet.  For now, by definition, I will call myself an activist – who uses an online platform to help spread awareness.

3 thoughts on “Click this, support that…am I a slacktivist?

  1. Great blog Amy! I appreciate how you speak to the connotations of slacktivism. Even the mere fact that ‘slacker’ is half of the word in infuriating; I think all of us in grad studies tend to not enjoy being called slackers, yet when we are coined with that term because we support things online it is frustrating. I think what you are doing is great, and how you use your online network to spread awareness about the causes that you find important is positive action. Keep up the great work!

  2. Great post Amy. I like how you ended it by stating you are an activist – who uses an online platform to raise awareness. You hit the nail on the head about how you only share things that you are actively taking action to change yourself. I think this is the key between a slacktivist and an online activist. I agree with you the internet is here to stay and obviously has changed peoples lives for better or worse, so we should use the power of the internet and spread awareness with the voice we gain by being online.

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