The new activism or socially conscious slacking?
Online activism or 'slacktivism' has gained a bad reputation as the lazy option for feeling morally superior without actually creating any good in the world.
Is slacktivism really as useless as the name suggests?
UNICEF ran a scathing campaign 'Likes don't save lives. Money does.' Aiming to guilt online activists into stepping away from the computer mouse and dig deep to end poverty. Others go still further and insist that the only true activism is large scale public movements for which you had to personally risk something to be a part of it- reputation, possible criminal record, violence, political repercussions.
UNICEF is right in that a Facebook Like will never translate directly to a life saved whereas a donation might- but how are those donations generated? How can we convince enough people to care in a profound enough way that they will reach into their wallets, and will put themselves on the line to support the movement passionately?
Recent research suggests that online activism isn't nearly so disconnected from real world action as once thought. People who regularly participate in online campaigns- liking, sharing and signing petitions, are significantly more likely to donate time and/or money than those who don't.
'Slacktivist' actions can act as conversation starters. They encourage people to find out more and they foster belief in a cause. Over time likes and shares can convert friends, family, and acquaintances - online actions become offline conversations and an unstoppable movement is born.
No one goes from knowing nothing about a cause to supporting and recruiting for it in one motion. It makes sense that the starting point is online. When the average person spends 13 hours a week online and most young people spend longer, when we access social media from our phones and carry it with us everywhere - where else would we start?
Oaktree recognises that success for the Movement to End Poverty starts with a belief. A belief in the possibility and importance of a world without extreme poverty. 'Slacktivist' actions help to generate and sustain that belief. No action is too small, each touch point created online increases the likelihood of pulling others into the movement. For many people those online actions will grow into more substantial and effectual contributions over time.
Social change is the first step in growing the financial support behind direct action and generating political will to end poverty. So don't let the slacktivism detractors get you down- oh... and share this post?
Where do you stand on Slacktivism? Help or hindrance? Comment and let us know.