Like it or not, slacktivism has become a part of today’s mainstream digital culture. An invented compound of slacker and activism, the oxymoronic nature of the term has been looked at with skepticism and criticism. However, with activism being at the root of the movement, it can’t be all that bad, right? With this in mind, we at TakePart.com set out to see if it had any really impact.
In researching our infographic, “The Power of Slacktivism,” we found many examples of campaigns that let activism shine through with little effort on the part of participants. From clicks to video views to texts, the numbers were astounding. These personal activists have had their hands in everything from fighting world hunger to standing up to big banks. Still, not everyone is convinced.
Some bloggers and commenters across the Internet saw issues with our examples. Can making a donation, even if just by texting, be considered slacktivism? If you sign a petition that doesn’t elicit an immediate response, does that count as making a difference? If an online game makes half the impact of another campaign, is it of any less value? And, of course, the controversial poster child of the slacktivism movement: Invisible Children’s Kony 2012.
While that campaign is not without its issues, we can’t ignore the now over 87 Million views the half-hour film garnered on YouTube. In a culture where the most popular viral videos star cats and barely cross the 2-minute mark, the reach and popularity is unprecedented. Although the call to action to make Joseph Kony famous may not seem very effective in enacting change, every movement has to start with a conversation.
On TakePart.com, we create opportunities for people to get involved in causes and communities through our “30 Ways in 30 Days” calendar. Some of these actions may be more involved than others and some could probably be considered slacktivist-leaning. If someone wants to get involved in making the world a little better, no matter how big or small, why would we stop them?
One of the biggest benefits of this type of micro-activism, is that it’s often a gateway for further action. Though studies have shown this to be true, I see it every day in my work with TakePart’s digital communities and social networks.
Recently, a 13-year-old boy discovered our site and began Tweeting at us every single day. This wasn’t our average reader, nor was it a behavior I had ever seen from a 13-year-old boy, so I started paying attention. He updates us with a Tweet each time he completes one of our daily actions and tells us how he is sharing with his friends. This week, he took his action offline and let us know how excited he was to participate in a river clean-up in his community.
Activism has to start somewhere – why not at your computer?