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Are you a slacktivist?

Are you a slacktivist?

Slactivism is the term used for doing social action from one’s keyboard according to National Catholic Reporter. It is a lazy way to feel better or does it change the world?

This morning I did a little work on the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Then I joined an environmental protest against genetically modified food and another one supporting undocumented workers. And, of course, a little feminist consciousness-raising. Man, are my fingers tired.

You see, all this activism was accomplished while sitting on the sofa, computer in my lap, sipping my morning coffee. I merely opened my inbox and responded to various requests to sign online petitions or to like, share or re-tweet in favor of causes I support — or against those I oppose.

Who knew changing the world could be so easy?

It’s called “slacktivism” (a combination of the words “slacker” and “activism”) by critics and refers to any feel-good effort, usually online, that requires minimal effort or investment, whether financial or personal.

Old-fashioned activists tend to look down their protest signs at slacktivists, seeing them as a bunch of, well, slackers. To them, slacktivism is activism “lite” that doesn’t contribute to meaningful change and, even worse, is more about the activist’s self-esteem or online image.


…Malcolm Gladwell in his 2010 New Yorker piece subtitled, “Why the revolution will not be tweeted.” Unlike those who literally put their lives on the line in the 1960s, he said, today’s online activists are not motivated enough for high-risk activism.

Or are they?

According to a 2010 study by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations, people who frequently engaged in “promotional social activity” (joining a cause group on Facebook, posting an icon on a social profile, blogging about a cause) were as likely as non-media social promoters to donate and twice as likely to volunteer their time and take part in events like charity walks.

Read more here.

h/t to Elizabeth Kaeton for the lead to the story from her Facebook status.


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In a country filled with people who list “Activist” as their vocation, I am a dedicated Passivist. — Alvah Whealton

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