Home > Global, Life > Moving Past Slackivism

Moving Past Slackivism

Follow up post on my previous entry Really Giving to Charity

How many of you have done any of the following things:

  • Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character
  • Post statuses such as I like it on the chair or I am the 1% who believe in…blah blah blah…
  • Participate in Earth Hour
  • Wear pink to show one’s commitment to anti-bullying, breast cancer etc…

If so, then you are part of a not-so-small group called slackivists. Slackivism describes the actions one does in support of a cause that has little or no practical effect except for his or her self-satisfaction. Usually there is very little effort required as in the case of updating Facebook statuses or sharing photos that trigger strong emotional responses from other people. Hence we get:

slacker + activism = slackivism

As Jessica LaGrone mentioned, the problem with slackivism is that people portray themselves as someone who cares about a cause when actually they haven’t contributed anything at all. When you see a friend click attending for a “turn off your lights during Earth Hour” fb event, you think oh that person cares about the environment and sustainability.  By liking a page or re-posting a status, people go to sleep every night with a soothed conscience thinking they did something good for the world so they don’t do anything else that actually benefits the causes. They think I’m an activist on screen so that I don’t have to make the effort to be one in real life.

In December 2010, many people changed their profile picture to a cartoon character. Here’s the accompanying caption:

Change your profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. There should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. This is a campaign to stop violence against children.

The message in the caption was clear: you can stop violence simply by changing your picture. There was no mention of any links to visit or people to contact or charities to donate to if one wanted to actively get involved with that cause. Yes that campaign was successful at raising awareness, but there’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right things. Even if I may not have the ability to make a large impact, I can use my influence to get other people to be sustainable, donate to charity, volunteer at community centers etc… and not something silly such as changing a picture or turning off their lights at 8pm on March 31.

Categories: Global, Life
  1. February 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I’m not sure if Earth Hour should be on your list. Sure, it’s a truly miniscule thing, but it is a demonstration of collective action to save quite a bit of power world wide. Although there is some activism involved in Earth Hour, there are also concrete benefits to participating.

    • February 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Yes there’re benefits to participating, but I still wanted to mention it lol. I’ve never participated in Earth Hour because it’s not practical for me to turn off all lights when I still need some. Instead I tell others to do more practical things like turning off unnecessary lights, recycling, carpooling etc…

  2. March 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I think the same way. My friend and I had a little argument about the cartoon thing. I didn’t change my profile photo to a cartoon character because I don’t think it does any good, or for me it is very superficial (hypocrisy). And so everybody thinks I don’t care or I don’t have a heart for these kids who are abused. But the thing is if we really want to help, we can do it by doing an action, real action. I mean, who on earth does not know that there are children suffering from violence? We can help in our own way no matter how small it is but doing it on facebook, I guess, is just a way of telling people that we care but in reality not all of us do. ;(

  1. April 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

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