"Slacktivists Unite!" (Or Something To That Effect)

Everyday we're living in a world where information is gathered and shared simultaneously through all sorts of media. Pieces of news are sent over the internet in the form of pictures or videos, people are constantly forming opinions about this news through e-mails or social networking tools, and the newly-completed (essentially "user-generated) articles make their way back to the masses- embellishments, omissions, reviews, and all- through any one of these channels.

So, in this age of technology where we are becoming increasingly better at manning the frontlines of the Information Army, with little more than our fingertips and the LCD-highway as our weapons, can it be said that we have forgotten the value of real work?

 "Real" in the sense of abandoning the armchair and the keyboard for actual physical interaction with the world, and the people who need help.
News reports in the wake of the incredible response to a video made last week to highlight the plight of Ugandans under the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) suggest that most of the people who shared the YouTube link do not actually know the full truth of the situation, nor are they likely to actively participate in resolving the issues that have so recently come to their attention.

The term "slacktivism" has come up quite often. Popular online "encyclopedia" Wikipedia.com has a long article on the various forms of this phenomenon, but the controversial neologism basically describes: "... [the] 'feel-good' measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort ... these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them..."
It seems a lot of people can talk, click, post or share a good game, but this doesn't always translate into action.

An article by Zoe Fox on mashable.com agrees with this definition, but also looks at the possible benefits of having videos such as the Kony 2012 one going viral:

                      "Do I think volunteering, giving money and writing to members of Congress are more valuable than sharing a link or tweeting? Maybe. However, if we have learned one thing about social media in the last few years, it’s that there is power in share numbers."*

So what about slacktivism? What credibility do the causes brought to the world's attention by such passive, complacent, and (some would argue) insensitive means?

While I believe that there is always a need for more awareness around the issues we confront daily in our worlds, I also understand critics' concern that merely saying something will not change as much as doing something.

Having said that, I will also state that I'm not claiming to be the quintessential do-gooder. I'm not even close. For me, once the goosebumps of seeing a particularly incendiary video subside, and my temper goes back to normal, the "big issue" I was raving about moments before is forgotten. And maybe people like me are the problem, but it isn't as if there's a video that's going to change that about me.

This is purely an opinion on what has been going on on my News Feed this week. You can agree, or disagree. That is, after all, what the comments function is for.





*Zoe Fox's complete article
**Reuters news article responding to the video

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