Monday, August 11, 2014

Slactivism: My New Favorite Word

Lately, whenever someone finds a bandwagon cause to spread like wildfire through social media, I'm the one to shit on it. I've written about feel-good, ineffective activism twice alone in the context of breast cancer awareness, pretty sure I've ranted hardcore about the ineffectiveness of "thoughts and prayers" in the face of national tragedy. Now I'm here to shit on #icebucketchallenge.

For those of you not familiar with the ice bucket challenge, it is quite simply dumping a bucket of ice water over your head and filming it to post on social media or donating to Then you tag people to either do the challenge or donate within 24 hours. Everyone, it seems, has gotten on the bandwagon, including celebrities (like Martha Stewart, seen to the right). Sure, this whole thing was started by someone with ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease, for those of you like myself who had to look it up), but really? It's silly. This is one of the things I stew on in the car on my daily commute, and it wasn't until I was able to check my Facebook feed later this morning that I was able to find an article that really sums up how I feel about nonsense like #icebucketchallenge:

Slacktivism is a relatively new term with only negative connotations being associated with it as of recently. The whole thinking is that instead of actually donating money, you're attributing your time and a social post in place of that donation. Basically, instead of donating $10 to Charity XYZ, slacktivism would have you create a Facebook Post about how much you care about Charity XYZ- generating immediate and heightened awareness but lacking any actual donations and long term impact.
Have I not ranted about this before, specifically in the pinkwashing of everything in October for breast cancer awareness? What about the Boston Marathon bombings? Everyone was "Boston strong," buying up merchandise that contributed zero dollars to the victims while essentially doing nothing effective at all. I'm not saying people aren't donating, because apparently in the last week alone, the ALS has gotten over $168,000 in donations, but honestly, I don't see anyone on my Facebook bragging about having donated. Why not, instead of buying ice and posting videos that no one really cares to watch, we just, you know, donate to the cause?

Social media is a wonderful thing. I'm a social media junkie. But social media activism is a joke. It truly is "slactivism," a way to feel good about yourself for caring but not really doing anything impactful. I'm not saying we shouldn't bring awareness to serious causes, and social media is great for that, but if you're going to do it, make sure you're doing what you can to also enact change/donate/otherwise help the cause. Posting a pretty photoshopped picture to your wall really does nothing, nor does dumping a bucket of ice water over your head.

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