Everyone in social media is an activist nowadays. A like or a share or retweet is the only thing needed to become an activist on a social network. They support a cause even if they don’t know what it is all about. There are quite number of researchers who have tried to find whether slacktivism affects real activism. Lee and Hseih (2013) have found through experiments that slacktivism doesn’t affect real activism and in some cases it influences people to take appropriate civil action.
The biggest problem about slacktivism is that people are not well informed about the cause they are supporting. Changing a profile picture or adding a ribbon doesn’t make anyone informed about the issue. The anti-thesis of this argument is that people have good intentions in sharing a worthy cause and it is not necessary for them to in depth. Case in point is Narayanan Krishnan, who became an Internet sensation after a lot of videos and news articles about his shelter for homeless people were shared on social networks. He was one of the CNN heroes in 2010, but recently it was established that there were about 120 deaths last year in his shelter home. He was charged with organ trafficking, abuse and murder that forced the government to close his shelter home. Of course, only few people shared the news on their social networks because it was not a positive story for their “slackvitism”. And, interestingly, I came across the original CNN heroes’ video being shared again on my Facebook wall recently. The other argument that pro-slactivist make is that social media sharing helps people to become familiar with the cause. But it is hard to believe that people read about a cause before they share.
Slacktivism thrives on the guilt of individuals. People feel good that they have done something good for the day by sharing that ‘important’ message to everyone in their timeline. Guilt forms the basis for slactivist tendencies and in turn helps people to instantly gratify through their actions. Slacktivism also induces people to be a coward and lazy from getting on to the street and fight for the cause. Above all, it makes people feel content about it.
P.S: I am guilty too…
List of references
- CNN, (2010). CNN Heroes Tribute Narayanan Krishnan. Available at: http://youtu.be/ZJZoOGXIXQU [Accessed 13 Nov. 2014].
- Lee, Y. and Hseih, G. (2014). Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism?: The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism. In: SIGCHI. Michigan.
- Rajendran, D. (2014). Deaths, disappearances, abuse: CNN Heroes’ Narayanan Krishnan mired in controversy. [online] Thenewsminute.com. Available at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/news_sections/410 [Accessed 13 Nov. 2014].
- Image courtesy: Unicef. Accessed from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/unicef-tells-slacktivists-give-money-not-facebook-likes/275429/