Online Charitable Activities: Real Change or Slactivism?

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Before writing this post, I had to become more familiar with the what the term “slactivism/slacktivism” means or refers to. Performing a Google search for the term “slacktivism” brought up a clear and easy to understand definition of the term:

slack·tiv·ism ˈslaktəˌvizəm/ 
Noun informal 
Noun: slacktivism; noun: slactivism
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. 
“such e-mail alerts make slacktivism easy"

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Clicking the “Like” button on social media or wearing a rubber bracelet, pin, ribbon, or specific colour on a specific day does not bring about real change. It may slightly increase awareness of a cause, but it will not actually help. After reading Gladwell, M. (2010). Small change: Why the revolution will not be Tweeted, I completely agree that revolutions and change were brought about more commonly before the internet and social media came to be. Staging protests and sit-ins as well as signing physical petition sheets were noticed and brought about real change in previous generations. Nowadays, clicking “Like” then moving on with your day is more common than attending a rally or donating money or time to every cause that is presented to you. It seems that we have been overwhelmed with causes through social media shares and posts and may have become slightly desensitized to them.

Social media and other online resources are great tools for presenting and sharing information virtually, but real activism and change only comes from physical actions. Donating your time by volunteering or donating your money to a cause or group that holds meaning are two physical ways. Tweeting a message with a specific hashtag (i.e. #BringBackOurGirls) does not do anything to help those affected by the wars, illnesses, or natural disasters just to name a few of the types of causes looking for donations.

After reading “The problem with #slacktivism”, I agree that Scott Gilmore made many valid points such as “The #BringBackOurGirls campaign is the latest disgrace from slacktivists, those who support good causes by doing very little, and achieving even less. A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. He will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head. The one thing slacktivists don’t do is help by, for example, giving money or time to those who are truly making the world a better place: the cancer researcher, the aid worker, the hospice manager.”

If we want to create change, then we all have to step out from behind the computer/phone screen and get out and volunteer our time for a worthy cause in our community or donate money to groups that will actually work to make physical change for those affected by wars, illnesses, or natural disasters. True change and revolutions will not happen with “Likes” or simply filling out an online form to show your support. If we want to create real change, then we will have to stop blindly clicking “Like” to show our support and search out causes that we can take real action with. This is “Why the revolution will not be Tweeted” or brought about through “Likes” on Facebook or through a using hashtag.

References:

1)    Gilmore, Scott (Nov 11, 2014) Macleans.ca: The Problem With #slacktivism. Retrieved from: http://www.macleans.ca/society/the-real-problem-with-slacktivism/

2)    Gladwell, M. (2010). Small change: Why the revolution will not be Tweeted. Retrieved from: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all

3)    Google Search (Nov 13, 2015) Search term: “Slacktivism”. Retrieved from: https://www.google.ca/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=slacktivism&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&gfe_rd=cr&ei=PiFGVpDCEMWC8Qeu1JHYDQ

4)    Seay, Lauren (Mar 12, 2014) Does Slactivism Work?. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2014/03/12/does-slacktivism-work/

5)    Seeman, Neil (Nov 19, 2013) Don’t Mistake ‘Likes’ on Facebook For Real Social Change. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/neil-seeman/wisdom-of-crowds_b_4297913.html

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