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YOU ARE JUST MAKING IT WORSE - Slacktivism; Media Based Activism It Is NOT.

you thought you were helping; you thought wrong.

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Have you ever change your profile picture on social media to support a cause? What about signing an online petition to back a cause? Have you ever shared a video or post on social media to aid or bring attention to a cause? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are what we like to dub as a “Slacktivist”; Someone who participates in social and political movements, without the actual movement part. (because you support from your own home, without having to get up, get it?).


Now before I get into why slacktivism is the bane of any decent social-political movement, let me preface this by saying media activism is not bad, as slacktivism is different than media based activism. Media based activism, though it shares some traits with slacktivism, is wildly contrastive in terms of both reasoning and effectiveness. This is because media based activism uses the social media platform to not only post regarding particular issues or social movements but create and promote events in real life. This also refers to the actions taken by many in terms of social and political justice in terms of things that border and cross the border in terms of legality; including but not limited to the breaching of laws and privacy (so hacking basically).


An example of this at is best, is the Arab Spring, a political movement fostered and built on social media platforms, where individuals being censored and repressed needed a platform to spread word of what was happening to them, and to bring to light the injustice of the various government actions, including but not limited to “the suspension and temporary silencing of any and all internet usage in all of Egypt, or the usage of chemical warfare on civilians in Tunisia” (1). There were proxy sites made to access social media, hacking groups taking down the government websites, and even organized protests developed and coordinated in areas all over the countries in order to combat the government and the oppressive and sometimes even illegal behavior.


With all that can be said about media based activism, however, the same cannot be said about slacktivism. This is because slacktivism is all the worst parts about media based activism, tied together in a lazy, poorly cut bow. Slacktivism entails doing the least amount possible in order to obtain the feel good factor associated with activism and doing good deeds; similar to a drug, in which a high is achieved by doing something, and then you forget about it till the ache for that cheap high comes rolling back around.


an example of this can be found in the #PrayForParis Movement. Created to raise money and awareness regarding the ISIS claimed attacks in the heart of Paris, the #PrayForParis movement had the fundamentals of a good movement that could have made a good impact. Unfortunately, an “army of Slacktivists” had the idea of putting a filter of the French Flag on their Facebook profile pictures as a form of “support” for the cause. The issue with this, while it may seem harmless, is that it is done and then immediately forgotten. This does not benefit anyone, nor does it educate anyone about the issue at hand, yet those who did it felt a sense of accomplishment, believing they helped in some way, and forget about supporting the movement, as they have already “done their part” by liking that post or retweeting that tweet.


Also regarding Posting, retweeting, and sharing things, it is incredibly easy to do. In fact, it can be done without fully reading or comprehending what is being shared. This, along with the feel-good effect stated earlier are massive negative points towards these slacktivists, as they will post this content without a full understanding of what they are posting, and as such, hurt the movement as a whole. This, unfortunately, causes deterioration in social/political movements, as many of these movements are built and need spreading of meaning and understanding their motives in order to raise awareness. When individuals do not read and fully comprehend what they want to post, the validity of the post and everything it stands for decreases in value, and the whole point is lost.


An example of this is shown in that of the “KONY 2012 Case Study”, showing that over “35% of the test subjects that were evaluated did not fully comprehend the video, yet shared it anyway. Of this 35%, 25% did not finish the video at all, but shared it in any case.” (2). To what effect does this have? Well with people not getting what’s going on but sharing it, we get this media spread around, but it has little to no impact because nobody knows the full idea.

Though media based activism proposes positivity and effectiveness are possible in the realm of social/political movements on the platform of social media, slacktivism takes away all of that. Sharing a post cause your friends are doing it, or sharing it because you think you are helping is not enough to warrant the cheap satisfaction you seek for being helpful. And its not like I'm trying to say Don't participate in any media based activism without reading anything and everything about it before doing so, as doing so would not only be a large time commitment, what do I know; I'm just presenting my perspective and some facts to back that up. That being said, If you wish to be helpful, try to do more research into what you promote; look into the possible options of which you can actually assist the cause, and see whether or not posting about the cause is really going to do anything. Who knows, it may help the movement from collapsing altogether.


(1). Agathangelou, A. (2011). Role of New media in the Arab Spring. In Arab revolutions and world transformations (Vol. 8, pp. 675-679).

(2). KONY 2012 CASE STUDY. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from og andre dokumenter/Specialer/Kony2012_Speciale.pdf

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