Slacktivsm. Up until this past week I had never heard the term before. I was aware of the online support through shares, likes and comments but didn’t know that those types of activities fall under the term slacktivism. Abby Rosmarin describes slacktivism as just that – “when people do something online in support of a certain cause or event, such as sign a petition or share a news article, that requires little time and/or thought.”
As with anything there are two views with slacktivism. There are those that believe slacktivism doesn’t work (like Scott Gilmore) and those who believe that any activism even online activism is better than no activism. I tend to agree with the latter.
Gilmore argues that simply liking a status, sharing an article, wearing a pin or clothes to support a cause does nothing to actually help the cause. He states that if you want to make a difference you either need to pay money by donating or volunteer your time. I feel the same way as my fellow classmate, Adam, does with regards to this. I think that you can show your support in many ways different ways including donating, volunteering, sharing and liking things online as well as wearing pins or a certain colour shirt. I don’t think you HAVE to volunteer your time or donate to all causes. In fact, it’s almost impossible to donate or volunteer your time to every cause that’s out there right now (trust me…there’s a lot). It’s great that there are so many causes but we have to pick and choose how and where we spend our time and money.
Just yesterday I was shopping and at three different stores I was asked to make a donation to a cause/foundation. I donated to the first one and not the last two. Were they all causes I would support? Absolutely. Each one was in support of children. Children with disabilities, reading programs and illnesses. Should I have supported each one? I suppose I could have, but financially I am just not able to donate to everything I am asked to. In our house we pick a few charities and foundations each year to support based on what we feel is important to us. One year it might be to support mental illness, another year it might be to support the heart and stroke foundation. We simply cannot afford to make donations time and time again.
So what do we do? Well…we wear coloured shirts, we re-tweet to help raise money for causes when companies will pay for each retweet or hashtag used, we like statuses and share posts. Does this mean we aren’t doing our part? No it doesn’t. We go further than just Facebook likes by talking with family and friends about the issues that matter to us. Sometimes we buy products that donate money to a cause because every once in a while it’s nice to treat yourself and have something to show your support too.
Going back to the other half of Gilmore’s argument in regards to volunteering, I can’t say I agree with that either. Not everyone has time on their hands that they can volunteer or go on a missions trip. Some of us have jobs, families and other responsibilities that make it extremely difficult to volunteer (especially for a cause like the Nigerian school girls). For some of us we can’t simply get up and leave to go fight for these girls or work as an aid. So we choose to use the hashtag for the cause #BringBackOurGirls so that we can do our part by simply raising awareness so that those who can help more might be reached. We use the hashtag to show that we support the cause.
I do think it is important to volunteer and donate when we can. It’s not enough to simply like, share and re-tweet things online. We have to go beyond our screens and talk about it in real life. We need to continue to support where we can and reach out to support those people we cannot help in person because we are too far away. We need to work with each other to create a voice that fights for justice, peace and equality.