Slacktivism: Word of the Day

I think of myself as being pretty up to date on issues relating to activism.  So I was surprised when I read a blog post on Snopes.com this morning that used the term “slacktivism.”  I’d never heard it before.

The Urban Dictionary defines slacktivism as “the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.”  Examples include wearing colored ribbons or rubber wrist bands, starting a Facebook group or creating an online petition.

There’s actually been a debate in the activist community about the value of slacktivism, one that’s been chronicled by PopTech columnist Marcia Stepanek and blogger Jay Garmon.

One side thinks that these activities are meaningless and that an individual’s time would be better spend taking actions that can result in real change.  The other side takes the view that any action, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, is important and can serve as a catalyst for more meaningful activities in the future.

I generally agree with the critics.  Nothing frustrates me more than someone thinking that by wearing a ribbon or wristband, they are changing the world.  But I also see the value in these types of collective actions.  The real challenge is acknowledging a “slacktivist’s” actions and convincing them to take the next step and do something more meaningful to “support the cause.”

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