How often do we hit the like button, shared a video, or post about something that seems unjust or unfair? Today on my personal Facebook page, within 2 minutes I was able to see 3 of my friends share a post about decreasing CO2 to save the earth. I also saw that a few of my friends shared a photo of a homeless person with a caption that urged people to help others. In retrospect, these Facebook friends of mine shared this image and this video in hopes to encourage others to act on these issues.
While these tactics are innovative and beneficial, we are contributing to the creation of a world that is largely behind a screen. Social media has become a large component of our world. We use it to communicate, explore, and express ourselves. Although social media is used for personal reasons, it is beginning to reach out even further. Businesses rely on social media to promote themselves and some teachers tweet out homework assignments and reminders. Taken even further, activists are relying on social media to get out information and spread awareness for issues all around the world. This has been shown to be successful in the past, giving large issues a name and beginning the conversation about tough topics.
Although this Internet activism can begin the conversation about some issues and possibly spread awareness, some critique these efforts, calling it “slacktivism.”As explained in an article by Brigham and Noland, slacktivism is “the willingness to perform a relatively costless, token display of support for a social cause, with an accompanying lack of willingness to devote significant effort to enact meaningful change.”
The good news is we have to ability to combat this idea. We just have to take our activism a couple steps further. While it is wonderful to share and post about these issues, there are other important steps in advocacy. We can call and write to our congressman, we can volunteer and donate to these causes.
Most importantly, we CAN advocate beyond the barriers of our screens.