Wake Up! Your Online Activism Means Nothing

In a social-media obsessed society, tiny and insignificant measures are often seen as influential. A “re-tweet" (RT) on a Twitter post, "like" on a Facebook status or "tag" on an Instagram photo is deemed sufficient to make a difference. Reality Check: It isn’t.

Issues such as breast cancer, racism, rape, sexual assault, animal cruelty, environmental degradation and child abuse etc are extremely serious. Whereas it should be heartening to see so many people actively talking about them and doing their bit to create awareness; the way they are going about it is more counterproductive than anything else.

Social media is a great way to get the word out, but needs to be followed by action. Otherwise, it’ll simply be the case of ‘boy crying wolf’ as people will stop paying attention.

In some cases, it has made a difference, with the revolution in Egypt being a prime example of social media being put to good use. However, most of the time, it is armchair experts sharing their ‘informed’ opinions and only willing to lift a finger when it’s time to type on their keyboards.

Agreed, the social media has allowed one to relate to the Arab Spring, Turkish protests and made people aware of the various Occupy events, cancer stories and pet rescues. The general knowledge of netizens has increased and more and more people are commenting, sharing or re-tweeting posts related to key issues, thus creating further awareness.

Sadly, that is where the buck stops.

Morgan Levy, a high school student recently expressed her frustration, “Recently, I was alarmed by a myriad of strange Facebook statuses from my friends over the course of a week. Curiously, I "liked" one in hopes of uncovering the roots of this movement. Five minutes later, I saw a message in my inbox informing me that since I "liked" the status I would need to post one of my own to raise awareness about breast cancer research. The 14 status options included: "damn diarrhea," "just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket," "no toilet paper, goodbye socks" and "I've decided to stop wearing underwear."

My 14 choices all had two things in common: they were all completely absurd and did nothing to raise awareness about breast cancer. Only gullible likers of the statuses were even informed that the purpose was to raise breast cancer awareness. Furthermore, strange posts of this nature do little to either raise awareness about breast cancer or help fund research to cure the devastating disease. “

“A tweet can get a million retweets, but the chances remain slim that the tweet actually saved somebody's life, “she added

The trend has reached a level high enough to warrant a name for it. No, it’s not social activism – let’s not give ourselves too much credit.

The word that defines our latest pass time-feel-good-clicking- is Slacktivism. The Urban Dictionary defines slactivism as "the ideology for people who want to appear to be doing something for a particular cause without actually having to do anything."

That’s where many people stand- Too much of key-tapping; too little action.

The worst, however, is the feeling of smugness and achievement that users get from it all. Without having accomplished a thing, some slacktivists sleep well at night – fueled by their ‘accomplishments’ of the day.

What happened to getting our hands dirty? Going out and making a difference?

Instead of retweeting meaningless posts, we need to actively make a difference perhaps by making a donation, starting a fundraiser, volunteering at a hospital or simply running for a cause we care about.

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