|We control what|
you think with
|Said and done|
|Jargon, buzzwords, slogans|
|—A quote that helped change the world|
Slacktivism (or performative activism) 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 of "slacker" and "activism."
Examples of slacktivism
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.
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 more likely to be effective 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. An entire industry has sprung up to scrape money from slacktivists' pockets, such as with Change.org.
Thoughts and prayers
|—Rev. Barry W. Lynn|
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 mass shooting incident to a parody phrase due to conservative politicians being inactive in (or actively working against) finding any solution (like say gun control) to further prevent those events.
Useless awareness campaigns
Awareness campaigns aren't always useful or helpful. If the campaign lacks a call to action, then it's hardly being helpful.
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. For example, many "autism awareness" campaigns mistreat or exploit autistic people for money.
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.
Misuse of the term
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. Online activism can help people get educated and find community.
- How Can We Let Darfur Know How Much We're Doing For Them? — The Onion News Network, on Slacktivism
- Why ‘Slacktivists’ Are More Active Than You Think, which analyzes the impact of traditional slacktivist activities
- "Where's My Water?" The most "realistic" foreign aid simulator ever. Sate Africa's thirst with the power of Facebook like and share buttons, just as in real life!
- Get it?
- English for mot-valise
- A Man On A Mission: The Rev. Barry W. Lynn Led Americans United For 25 Years, Spreading The Gospel Of Church-State Separation by Rob Boston (Jul 15, 2022) Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
- Willingham, AJ (May 19, 2018) How 'thoughts and prayers' went from common condolence to cynical meme. CNN. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Stop Raising Awareness Already
- Enough With 'Raising Awareness' Already
- What Good Does Autism Awareness Do? It Doesn’t
- Awareness is Overrated
- The Myth of Slacktivism