I read an article on the Forbes website the other day called 2012 Time ‘Person’ Of The Year Prediction: The Slacktivist, and I didn’t know what that meant. I had never heard of the word slacktivist before. After researching it a little more, I realize I know a lot of slacktivists, and at times, I’ve been one myself. I think it’s common, at least in many social media circles. The word slacktivist is a combination of the words slacker and activist.
According to Wikipedia, slacktivism is “a term that describes feel-good measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that has little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist.” Examples of slacktivist activities might be adding a little symbol to a social media avatar, joining an organization without contributing to it or retweeting causes for social good without ever even clicking on the links or reading about it. Ouch – I’ve done all of these things. It basically means promoting change without being dedicated to making a change.
Believe it or not, regardless of what I just typed, being a slacktivist in today’s technology world is not a bad or derogatory thing. Thanks to social media; when a bunch of slacktivists get together and start an Internet petition or start sending a bunch of tweets, it can initiate real change. After all, during the SOPA blackout, 3.9 million SOPA related tweets were sent.
So, the next time you turn off your lights for an hour to support the environment or buy a product because a portion of the proceeds go to charity – and you do these things just because they make you feel good – don’t feel like a slacker afterwards. I mean, even if you are a slacktivist, you are still part of a movement which can raise awareness which might in itself initiate real change. Besides, it’s still way better than doing nothing, which is what a lot of people do. This infographic, created by Sortable, sheds some interesting light on what it means to be a slacktivist.