Slacktivism: Friend or Foe?

I first heard the term slacktivism a few months ago during my public advocacy class. Put simply, slacktivism can be best described as passive activism. Liking a Facebook post, signing an online petition, or retweeting someone else’s opinions are all forms of slacktivism. However, is simply sharing these campaigns virtually such a bad thing?

The most recent form of slacktivism to hit social media is the #YesAllWomen campaign. The hashtag was made in response to the recent killing spree at the University of California, Santa Barbera at the hands of 22 year old student, Elliot Rodger. Both in his manifesto and in several YouTube videos, Rodger openly shared how lonely he felt and how people, specifically women, would need to pay for not giving him the love and affection he felt he deserved.

In response, #YesAllWomen was created as a platform for women, not to bash men, but to share their own stories of discrimination or violence that they’ve felt personally at the hands of a man. Soon, the hashtag was trending and women everywhere were relating to and supporting one another. However, one huge flaw in online activism is the ease and ability for others to add a new message to the conversation.

In the last few days, tags like #YesAllMen and #NotAllMen have been trending, most of the tweets accusing those participating in the #YesAllWomen tag to be extremely feminist and close-minded. Unfortunately, most of the tweets also just happen to reaffirm many of the arguments made about the validity of discrimination and violence against women discussed in the original hashtag.

While some may argue that slacktivism is, well, slack, I find that advocating via social media is a great way to reach a huge audience at once. The problem arises when that’s where the activism ends. After an issue has gained public attention, it’s important to take it one step further than an Instagram post and make strides towards changing the issue.

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