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Slacktivism

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For Fred Clark's blog, see Slacktivist.
1 goat = 1 prayer
—A quote that helped change the world[1]

Slacktivism is a pejorative description for "activism" that requires little to no effort from the participants and has low to no effect towards the stated goal. The implication is that the person wants the warm and fuzzy feeling of fighting for a cause without, well, fighting for a cause. The word itself is a portmanteau[2] of "slacker" and "activism."

Examples of slacktivism[edit]

The term is often used to describe initiatives such as "If you care about cause X, like this page on Facebook" and other "awareness raising" campaigns. Slacktivism often takes the form of preaching to the choir, such as posting supportive comments on blogs only really frequented by people that already agree with it or writing articles for subscription-only newsletters the unconvinced layperson doesn't read.

Useless petitions[edit]

In particular, slacktivists gravitate around online petitions for huge, sweeping change even though petitions haven't actually worked that way in over a century (if ever, really). Unsolicited petitions will often work for largely-trivial small community topics (e.g. holding a school dance on a particular date or changing the statue in front of city hall), but are somewhere between useless and laughable when trying to, say, end the war in Afghanistan. Online petitions are also very easily subject to ballot stuffing, making it that much easier to dismiss them altogether.

Thoughts and prayers[edit]

Posts asking people to pray for a given cause or outcome could also, arguably, be considered a form of slacktivism. For example, the phrase "thoughts and prayers" was transformed from giving mere condolences from a shooting incident to a parody phrase due to conservative politicians being inactive in finding any solution (like say gun control) to further prevent those events.[3]

Useless awareness campaigns[edit]

Awareness campaigns aren't always useful or helpful. If the campaign lacks a call to action, then it's hardly being helpful.[4]

There are also cases in which people mindlessly support awareness campaigns, without realizing that the organizations they're supporting are scams or even actively harmful.[5] For example, many "autism awareness" campaigns mistreat or exploit autistic people for money.[6] Horrible Controversial groups like Autism Speaks, Susan G. Komen, and PETA can use awareness campaigns to raise more money for them to misuse. Furthermore, raising awareness about bad behavior may make people think it's normal to act that way, lowering their inhibitions about just doing the bad thing.[7]

Misuse of the term[edit]

Some people may be accused of being slacktivists simply because they do all their advocacy online. These accusations don't take into account the fact that people with disabilities, people in poverty, and young people may not be able to access in-person opportunities to get involved.[8] Online activism can help people get educated and find community.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]