Slacktivists of the World, Sign Here!

10 02 2010

Are we activists? Don’t know, sounds a bit … athletic, and therefore the answer would be probably not.

Perhaps we’re slacktivists. Sounds more likely.

There’s a term floating around – slacktivism – that is basically activism on lots and lots of valium. Snopes.com describes slacktivism as “the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without actually getting one’s hands dirty, volunteering any of one’s time, or opening one’s wallet.”

For instance, a slacktivist signs a petition to stop the killing of dolphins. An activist films the killing, stands in front of the post office each day asking people to sign the petition, takes the film and the petition to the International Whaling Commission, and demands that they stop those who kill dolphins.

Big difference.

But, if no one bothers to sign a petition to show there is support (let’s get a plug in for slacktivists), then where are we?

Is there a place for slacktivists, and is slacktivism useful?

We think yes.

There are websites that cater to the slacktivist approach and still manage to get things done, most notably FreeRice, which lets users earn points while playing educational games. The points earned can be spent on grains of rice which are sent to hungry people around the world.

Slacktivism making a difference!

No, the slacktivist doesn’t have to give up his time to go out and dig a new irrigation system, plant rice and then harvest it in order to feed the hungry, and yes he is sipping a latte while comfortably playing a game on his computer, but he is helping.  No matter how cozy he is while doing so.

While there is no substitute for generous donations and getting off the couch to volunteer for those who are in need, it appears that slacktivism has a role to play and could be considered activism’s (junior) partner.

And that’s OK, just as long as the clicking of (computer) mice and flourishing of pens are balanced with a bit of cash and a drop of sweat.

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