By: Andrew Kelly
We’ve all done it before: we’ve liked a Facebook or Twitter post about an issue we have a stance on, and then went about our days thinking nothing more of it. We’ve complained about a journalism outlet we don’t like on social media and then went back to watching YouTube or playing Counter Strike. “Slacktivism”, as social researchers have called it, is any social media-based activism that requires minimal effort on the part of those partaking in it and therefore minimal positive output for the organization that was being aided. In the words of the UN AIDS council, the term Slacktivist “posits that people who support a cause by performing simple measures are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”.
“But how is liking a Facebook page about something I support bad?” you might ask. There really is nothing wrong with liking a Facebook page about a political topic we support, or critiquing an op-ed written by someone who’s views don’t happen to align with our own. But if you support a cause, it’s much better to (literally) put your money where your mouth is and donate to a cause that you often tweet about. Because, at the end of the day, what is tweeting about something really doing but 1: making you feel good about yourself and 2: broadcasting your political opinions to the world?
The other problem with “slacktivism” is it’s inherently narcissistic nature; instead of sacrificing something, be it money, time, or social brownie points, for a cause, all you’re doing is boosting your own ego. You’re not inherently losing anything by liking a Facebook or twitter page–you’re not breaking out of any bubbles, changing anyone’s minds, or helping anyone by doing that. If the likes of Martin Luther King or Harvey Milk saw what passes for “activism” nowadays, they would roll over in their graves.
So, in short, go ahead and retweet and like topics you support: But don’t stop there: Volunteer for the congressman or senator who’s Facebook page you liked. Submit an op-ed to the newspaper or website who you ranted about on Twitter. Overall, do something more to support the causes you care about than just tweet about them, like them on Facebook, and subscribing to their YouTube.