The New Age of Slacktivism

By Linda Cako

As our generation moves deeper into globalization, it has had its benefits and drawbacks. Besides the obvious benefits, the most notable drawback to come to light is Slacktivism. We’ve all seen it, heard of it, or been a part of it ourselves. Popular examples include the Ice Bucket Challenge, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, and something more in season, Remembrance Day. Slacktivism is defined as “actions performed via the internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement”.

While the idea looks good in the beginning with millions of people helping to raise awareness for a cause, it, unfortunately, doesn’t do anything for charities or organizations who actually need time or resources donated to solve these issues. The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS was great for raising awareness for the disease, but few people actually donated to the cause even though they participated in the challenge. This month’s Movember takes laziness even further by giving men an excuse not to wake up earlier to shave, but at least everyone will know what they are supporting.

When the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was going on, many people responded on social media to raise awareness for the 276 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped. The support on social media was so ineffective, six months later 30 more girls were kidnapped and the initial 276 girls were never found.

Slacktivism has nothing to do with people having big hearts and supporting charities. It’s meant to give people an ego boost about themselves. They think they’ve done their part by showing that they care about the cause. They will wear pink one day in the year, or like that post online, but in reality, all they’ve done is make themselves look like they’ve put in some effort. If someone really supported a charity or cause, they would not need an incentive to help. They don’t need to demonstrate it to others through a gimmick, they would simply give their time or donate to the charity to help with the cause.

In conclusion, Slacktivism is not the most productive way we could be supporting these charities. It’s not the end of the world if we do help to spread awareness because as is often said, the best way to start solving a problem is to acknowledge there is one in the first place. We just need to take it further now and actually take some action to these causes. You are not expected to solve each problem overnight, but little steps count. Instead of wearing a pink shirt one day and going back to making insensitive jokes the next day, start by watching what you say, and what others say too. Maybe donate whatever change you have on you to whatever cause the person in the mall is representing. There are many little ways anyone can get involved. Don’t just limit your actions to online support. It’s time to move beyond that and to make a change. Think about this as we start heading into the Christmas season.

Linda is a grade 12 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.