How many times do you find yourself browsing through your Facebook feed and hidden between all those baby and wedding pictures, you see a post from a friend requesting a like or a share regarding a tragic event taking place on the other side of the planet. Often times, you will find yourself moved by the said event or cause and sharing it forward.
The term coined by online “experts” and pundits for this behaviour is “slacktivism” or “click activisim” where we perform a simple task like liking, sharing, posting a link, filling out an online petition etc and tend to feel gratified with our simple contribution to the world. Quite a few articles like this one tend to slam online activism. Critics state that it causes an illusion of activism and easy disengagement with very few likes or shares actually turning into donations.
I am guilty of that as well where I have sent a petition or shared a post without any donation. But on the other hand without social media how many of us would have been aware of some of the human rights abuses happening in other parts of the world? Online activism may not necessarily garner donations but it does start a dialogue and register in the collective psyche. In fact some of my thoughts are more eloquently discussed in this Washington Post article, which mentions that online activism’s sole purpose is to start a dialogue.
The gang rape that happened in New Delhi in December 2012 was not the first one that happened in India where abuses against women are commonplace. But thousands of online petitions, posts etc. did trigger dialogue. India’s reputation as a tourism magnet took a hit because of the social media storm and various levels of Government are scrambling to put laws in place to fix the situation.
The most famous example of Slactivism in recent history has to be that of Kony 2012. It garnered world wide support and even US senate sending troops to Uganda. But various critics questioned the legitimacy and the claims made in the video. However, had we not seen or heard that video, we would have no idea who Kony was.
To summarise, online activism is not you being lazy but you starting a dialogue that may lead to tangible benefits in the future.