The viral ‘KONY 2012’ campaign has been all over the Internet, and with it, questions about the authenticity/effectiveness of the charity Invisible Children. Well, I am not here to say whether Invisible children is the best choice to give your money to or not, what I am here to say is that Slacktivism, in general, is one of the most powerful and effective medium of change.
For those of you out of the loop, there have been question raised on Invisible children because they spent more money on spreading awareness for the cause rather than giving money to the cause. According to them the best way o get Kony to justice is spread awareness about him, so that the governments take notice. Critics say that a major part of their money collected should go to directly to the cause rather than indirectly be used to spread awareness.
Coming back to Slacktivism. What is slacktivism, again?
Usually, slacktivism is when you post a Anna Hazare status update on Facebook and then go back to HIMYM. Or maybe, sign an online petition too.
From Wikipedia –
Slacktivism is a term formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research.
As you can see, the definition carries negative connotations by suggesting that slacktivism sucks. That’s not true actually.
So, what is so awesome about slacktivism?
Slactivism is also when you black out your website. Post ‘ *censored* ‘ as your status update. It is when sites like Wikipedia and Reddit join in. It is when the President of the United States takes notice and says that SOPA sucks. It is when a million slacktivists actions combine to save the Internet from a stupid law. One status update may look ineffective, but when thousands of people scream out in unity, we can move mountains.
OK, that’s like one example.
Is that what you think. Remember the yellow LIVESTRONG bands that everybody was wearing a few years ago. A part of the bands money went to charity. The aim was to collect 25 million $. It took 6 months to do so. If nobody wore those bands, more people would not buy them, and hence, the money would not be collected.
Red Cross collected 5 million $ in 2 days after the Haiti earthquake. During the same time, the most trending topics on twitter were related to the earthquake.
Product Red – U2’s lead singer, Bono, founded RED. Any RED product [ like the iPod RED ] that people buy, a part of the profit goes to RED.
TL;DR – Awareness is as important, if not more, that the charity itself.
Um, so what are you saying?
It’s a fact that actually doing something/donating money is awesome. But, if you can not do that, don’t shy away from updating your status.
Here are some protests that are not absolutely slacktivism examples, but were heavily driven by slacktivism. They fit in the broader category of internet activism.
1. Jan Lokpal Bill – The Anna Hazare Campaign : This involved actual protests on the streets, but was largely driven by social media.
2. Besharmi Morcha [ Slut Walk, New Delhi ] : Organised through a simple Facebook event.
3. Occupy Movement – One of the largest protests of all time, fueled via YouTube , Facebook. [ I still don’t understand what they want, but whatever … ]
4. Greek Protests
5. Tahrir Square – The Egypt Revolution
6. Anonymous – The hacker group. They are what defines ‘hacktivism‘.
And many, many others.
What are your thoughts on slacktivism? Let us know in the comments below. No, seriously, leave a comment.