Social Change, Political Participation, and Slacktivism

In the previous blogs that I’ve shared, I have been sharing mostly about social media and its evolution. I’ve been focusing on the development side of social media and its effects on human interactions. In this blog, I will share something that is a little bit different but still involved in social media sphere.

These days there are various methods and channels in which we can reach out to help those who are in needs. Like, share, online donations, or online petition are considered vastly by majority of people on social media as online activism. They perceived these practices as ways that can practically help others on an online platform. It is an action that requires very minimal effort to support a cause. It might be able to raise awareness about the issues, but does not necessarily lead to an actual change. Thus, the kind of practice by its definition is actually described as ‘Slacktivism’ which is basically an idea that you are helping others by liking, sharing, or retweeting posts on social media. (Urban Dictionary, 2015) We all have seen many actions regard to the issues on social platforms that do not actually contribute to the changes, betterment, or solutions.When there is a post calling for actions, what most people on social media would normally do is like and share. Comparing to offline actions where people are actually marching, lobbying, or meeting, most people consider the efforts of an online action as producing less effective political participation. It is quite a tricky subject since people do feel like they are actually doing something that are helpful. They might not be able to go to the place and engage in the situation where the issues originally occurred. Hence, in their perspectives, they are tweeting and sharing the stories so that someone else who are capable of doing so can participate.

Furthermore, we constantly forget about the issues that we once feel so passionately about as there are countless events that have happened and is happening. Thus, it is perceived as another evidence that online actions that are not continual and do not successfully achieve the highest possible outcome through actual political participation, barely contribute to the change of political related process. In some cases, this kind of action is oftentimes intentionally used as a way to promote oneself as socially conscious which is totally the opposite to supporting or addressing the issues.

However, there are also different perspectives toward the concept of Slacktivism. Many bellieve that there are no effort that is too large or too small because you do not know exactly what comes after you click on something or you share it on Twitter or Facebook. You don’t know who’s going to take what you share and then go further with it. They might get inspired and wanted to do more with the issues. The person who learned about the issues from you might end up knowing or being someone who have the potential to support the cause. It might not be the greatest way to be considered as an actual help or action, but for people who do not have enough capacity or who is not yet daring enough to go out there, for example, to join a protest. Sharing about the issues might at least spread the news to those who can and hopefully pressure related actors to take actions.

Probably, the concept of slacktivism cannot be defined as completely negative or positive. It produces both advantages and disadvantages related to social issues. (Anyhow, one should always consider taking an action that can potentially cause social change.)