Does Slacktivism Work?

In a world where social media permeates our every day lives, activist and advocacy groups have been more reliant on using social media platforms to raise awareness for their causes. People are encouraged to “like” pages, share posts, or even create videos and take pictures by these groups as support for their cause. Are these campaigns actually successful?

“Slacktivism” is defined by Kristofferson, White, & Peloza, as “willingness to perform a relative‐ly costless, token display of support for a social cause, with an accompanyinglack of willingness to devote significant effort to enact meaningful change.” A simple click, like, retweet, share, can make the slacktivist feel like they have actively contributed to a cause. It is low-risk and low-cost activism. It doesn’t require leaving the comfort of your home and doing manual labor or donating part of your salary to help an organization. However, does slacktivism work? Does a simple like or a share of a post help with these campaigns? 

Kony 2012 was a huge social media movement, perhaps the first of its kind. It set the precedent for creating awareness on social media. The youtube video reached over 100 million views on youtube and had the endorsing of big name celebrities. The movement however, was met with a lot of criticism. While a lot of the facts were inaccurate, Kony 2012 allowed people to easily become activists or agents for the cause by simply sharing the video on their social media platforms. By starting the culture of “slacktivism”, critics argued that it would not enact any social change and could possibly hurt real civic actions such as volunteering, protests, and charity. These acts only make people “feel good” about themselves and will not lead to active citizenship.

There have been other large social media movement such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that have been met with the same criticisms. Although the Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $220 million for ALS research, the percentage of people who actually donated was very small. There were many participants of the ice bucket challenge that did not end up donating. While these criticisms are valid, I believe that slacktivism opens up doors for future activism for those who would not traditionally pursue activism. A simple share or like can come along way in raising awareness.

-KZ

 

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