This article first appeared on Compassion’s blog on May 17, 2016.
Gone are the days when I hear about tragic news from television. It starts with one breaking-news tweet; and then a friend shares an article on Facebook. Next thing you know, my feeds are filled with nothing but the latest global crisis or social cause that is trending.
It gets overwhelming. It’s an overload of information about God’s hurting creation that is quickly followed by a feeling of helplessness or a burning desire to do something.
As the 21st century people we are, “doing something” looks a lot like using the megaphone of social media.
We shout at the world from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with indignation. We share our opinions and links to news stories we think everyone needs to see. We change our profile pictures in support of the victims. Anything to say to the world: I care. This. This matters!
We’re not naive enough to think that changing a profile picture or tweeting that social activism hashtag will change the world. However, it’s one way to stand with humanity and say: We care.
This concept of slacktivism, of expressing support for a cause solely through social media, has been both criticized and praised.
Critics argue that slactivism (sometimes known as hashtag activism or vanity activism) is ineffective, doing nothing more than making the supporter feel like they have contributed. They cite #Kony2012 and #BringBackOurGirls as reductionist and as having little impact. While they may have raised awareness, they boiled down a complex social issue to a hashtag without leading to tangible ways to address it.
Yet, fans of hashtag activism point to movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #ALSIceBucketChallenge as evidence that not only does slacktivism spread awareness that gets people to take action, it can actually lead to raising a significant amount of money to advance a cause.
As our modern-day water cooler, social media can be a powerful tool where hearts can be moved and lives can be changed. But how can we turn our sympathy and empathy into more than just a like or share? How do we use social media well for something we’re passionate about?
Happy Compassion Wednesday everyone! Um, yes, I know it’s Thursday. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t. It’ll be our secret.
As I am a proud Slacktivist, I thought this was rather relevant. How do we become more effective in our efforts? Is slacktivism enough, or is it laziness?
What do you think? Where do you stand in the arguments against or for slacktivism?
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