“Slacktivism” and how I chose it for a better world

Welcome again to my humble blog.

Today I want to talk to you about a new concept I discovered not too long ago and left me very concerned. This is Slacktivism. The definition offered by Wikipedia says:

Slacktivism (a portmanteau of slacker and activism) is a pejorative term for the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment. Slacktivism is showing support for a cause with the main purpose of boosting the egos of participants in the movement. The action may have little effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfied that they have contributed. Underlying assumptions promoted by the term are that these low-cost efforts are ineffective, and substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them. Empirical investigation has found these assumptions are incorrect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacktivism

When I read this definition something comes to mind very easily. During the movement of the BLM, there were tons of black squares appearing on Instagram. I am sure that was considered Slacktivism at the time. And I might have been one of those that looked at them and thought: “Ok, that is out of the blue for a person who has never raised their voice against racism.” But now, almost a year later, more distance and time between me and George Floyd’s death, I think again.

I’ve never been an activist or something close to it. I consider myself pretty reserved and temperate toward others. In my inner world, though, I have always condemned injustice. Ever since I was little, the word “injustice” was the one I would use the most. At home, I would demand being treated equally even though I was little. Now, I demand being treated equally regardless of my sex, age or status.

Being such a moderate person, my approach to activism has always been very, very cautious. Baby steps. Little is better than nothing. I started donating a bit every month to causes I thought worthy. Next, I investigated issues that ticked me off by reading or listening to podcasts and sharing my findings on social media. Then I looked for volunteer opportunities. My next step was opening this blog. But, was I ready for active activism (sorry for the redundancy)? I don’t think so.

And then I started thinking: is it useless what I’m doing? And for that matter, is it useless or harmful that someone shares a black square on Instagram when a person has been murdered? At least I could see they were condemning that fact to the rest of their network. That might have a tiny impact, but it does. It is better than nothing.

I still admire those people so committed to a cause they will become activists to defend it. But some of us don’t feel ready for that kind of commitment and that’s alright. Calling passive action towards a cause “Slacktivism” to me sounds kind of absolutist, assuming there is only one good way to help. But when you think about it, would it have been better if, after the murder of George Floyd, the social networks stood in silence?

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