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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Slacktivism – The Way of 21st Century?

Our generation today is one that has convenience on the list of it’s values. We have condensed our daily lives into a series of actions, symbols and items that have been downsized for minimal effort. Need to reconnect with a friend halfway across the world? Its much easier to drop them a line on Facebook rather than picking up the phone or God forbid, write a letter to them. Even our language, the sounds and signs that has taken centuries to be crafted and evolve, has actually devolved into more primitive single-syllable, or minimal-lettered words. No more “Hello, how do you do’s” anymore; its all just shortened into “‘sup?” Heck, you even see people being too lazy to actually go on vacation! Nowadays, staycations in Singapore are all the rage. I mean, why travel when you have a perfectly good hotel half an hour away to stay at, am I right?

 

And this move to not be bothered about the greater things in life has translated into social awareness, more specifically, “Slacktivism”. “Slacktivism” is a movement by our generation to not be bothered about being bothered. A portmanteau of the words “Slacking” and “Activism” it is the lazy person’s way to show their concern or participate in a cause for the greater good.

 

Here is a good example to paint a clearer picture: imaging you are scrolling down a social media site. You chance upon a post saying that “For every like/favourite, you show your support for the suffering children in Gaza.” You could easily scroll right on by, but why not just like it. You want to show the world you are a caring person, that is knowledgeable about worldly issues. You “Like” the post and move on. Your good deed for the day has been done.

human and technology

Image source: http://www.qgiv.com/blog/slactivism-101/

 

Or has it?

 

I mean, what have you actually done to show your support? A simple “Like” through Facebook isn’t going to end the war, or send aid to the refugees, or even donate money. It does absolutely nothing except boost your ego for a minute or two. A more popular example would be the ALS Ice Bucket challenge campaign that took the internet by storm earlier this year. Many people, from laymen to celebrities, took videos of themselves, nominating their next victims before dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads. I can bet you all the money that was raised from that cause that people didn’t do it because they cared about ALS and they wanted to help; they did it because it was the “in-thing” to do. A majority of the people doing it did not even donate money, know where their money was going, or even know what ALS was in the first place.

 

als ice bucket

Image source: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/08/05/mix-104-1s-salt-dares-wbz-tv-anchors-to-try-ice-bucket-challenge/

 

The point of this all is that social media and other communication methods are great ways to spread awareness, to show people what is going on, and if there are some that truly care, to start conversations and share information. But when it comes to taking actual action towards a cause, to put the “active” in “activism”, this is where it fails. So many people of our generation are constantly plugged into the internet, but to actually reach out to these people is somewhat of a feat. There is a great deal of disconnect in them when organizations or causes try to tap into the audiences empathetic vein. Most of the reciprocation is done by the respondent as a way to stroke their ego rather than with actual caring. Sometimes, it’s not something that people do to up their karma points, sometimes it is because they do share mutual feelings with what the message is trying to communicate. But then, what? It’s nothing more than one-way conversation between two people where one person is screaming their head off at the other, while the other merely replies with a nod. Also, spreading awareness through these media creates a forgettable message. We see messages about taking action, putting a stop to things, starting new things; all these messages about how we should get up and go. What do we do about them? Nothing. We read, we click “Like” or retweet or whatever and move on.

 

unicef

UNICEF’s retaliation against slacktivism. Image source: http://borgenproject.org/unicef-criticizes-facebook-slacktivism/

 

This applies to some parts of the population and although this article may seem like a rant, we do actually understand that there are some people out there that truly want to make a difference. To those are actual social activists and do more than retweet a post, but rather help out in a more tangible way that produces results, props to you and may your virtues be exemplified. To those who are slacktivists and have realized their true nature upon reading this article, give this article a “Like” to acknowledge your agreement.

 

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