Slacktivism: What are you doing to create Change?

Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or clicktivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction” (Wikipedia).

In the year 2011, and particularly for the millennial generation, it’s hard to imagine what the world was like before the Internet. The World Wide Web has completely changed the way we interact, learn, and conduct business. Like all things, there are pros and cons. There are numerous benefits to the Internet; however, there are some aspects that are disadvantageous as well. For instance, consider the act of communicating. The Internet has allowed us to communicate practically and conveniently with our friends, family, and co-workers at nearly light-speed (amongst other benefits). On the other hand, the same means have helped facilitate individual’s poor interpersonal skills (hermits), corroding grammatical competencies (lol), and even cyber-bullying (See: www.stopcyberbullying.org). With any debate, the angle one takes –political, social, economical, medical, etc.— helps individual’s believe their cause as ‘fact.’ A true Sigma Lambda Beta man must look at both sides of any argument with an open-mind. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to any of what is going to be communicated here. Nonetheless, the goal is to prevent you from becoming a Slacktivist.

If you consider yourself to be an activist, or simply as a Brother of Sigma Lambda Beta, ask yourself: “What am I doing to create change?” Additionally, how much time throughout your day do you spend casually browsing the Internet? The bottom line is, creating real, concrete, empirical, fact-driven change involves more than ‘liking’ a Facebook status. Sure, tweeting the color of your bra might, in some obscure way, raise awareness to breast cancer. Congratulations, you’re an Internet warrior! For an apathetic and complacent generation that lives in the now, I guess this is our modern-day activism (who would risk the dangerous behavior of marching in the street, anyway?). But if you haven’t left your chair, and at least had a verbal conversation with someone, you’ve arguably done nothing. Creating this “awareness” might bring attention to the issue; it’ll probably make you feel pretty good too. However, if you forget about that issue you blogged about, the online petition you signed, or the Facebook group you joined, then your efforts might be in vain.

Please don’t misunderstand the point of this article. Certain types of activism may have their place on the Internet. Information on protests and political campaigns has spread through social networking mediums. If it’s considered ‘worthy,’ then the media may also mention the cause. However, this is only a start. Our generation has to demand more from each other in order to create real change. Activists fight for their causes usually as a means to achieve political goals. Do you think Barack Obama made ‘change’ by sitting at home on his laptop, writing about what the American government and people should do? You can’t make the club in the tub and you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pocket, either. However, you can click your mouse, while eating a ham sandwich and sitting in your lazy-boy recliner to re-tweet information on Japan disaster-relief efforts. Ask yourself, what has more effect: physically participating in a demonstration at your state capital building or writing a blog about an issue? There is strength in numbers and blogs today are a dime a dozen- good luck getting people to read them, too. Even this very article may have little effect, if it doesn’t engage you to do something. Would it be more beneficial to write the Governor of your state a letter or meet with her/him at her/his office? Something is better than nothing, but some people are more serious about achieving their goals than others. Consider your actions along with the best possible way to achieve your plan.

And surely Brothers of Sigma Lambda Beta can relate, or at least be empathetic. We all know those “paperless Brothers” who respond to every email, barking about what should be done and when it should be done. Those Brothers sit at home and criticize the knock. They point the finger at those daring enough to get involved; those that are bold enough to lead, organize, and push the boundaries of the ordinary. The point of this article is to let you know that clicktivism is not good enough. Writing emails is not good enough. Being good is not good enough. Sure, it may be a start. But in order to create the types of serious changes that we desire, we have to demand more from ourselves. We have to hold each other accountable to higher standards. If we don’t, we allow mediocrity to be placed on the same level as excellence, and that won’t change anything. If we, as Sigma Lambda Beta men, strive to hold each other accountable for intellectual excellence, to better serve our world, and for continued participation, then we -at the very least- need to have these types of conversations.

Activism is derived from the word act. To act, or action, involves activity. Activity is the opposite of inactivity. And slacktivism is dangerously close to inactivity. Slacktivism should not be confused with activism or activity in any way. At a certain point, the ‘informing,’ the web-surfing, and Facebook groups have to turn into action. At some point, you have to get up and do something. Even coming to consensus on an issue will not change the world. Posting a Facebook status may only evoke an “oh that’s nice” response. Don’t we want more, though? Besides, these Facebook posts get lost in a sea of Nikki Minaj songs, videos of street corner fights, and the Charlie Sheen tweets with which our generation is infatuated.

In short, you can’t click your way to a better world; you have to work for it. Don’t be that Brother who preaches over the internet world –chillin at home, drinking his purple juice– yet do nothing in the real world. Don’t confuse awareness with change. If you want to create change, why not become a U.S. Senator? Think Big(ger). You’ll be a better person by getting out of your room and physically attending a meeting/event. Trust.

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About Maximo

Maximo Anguiano is an alumnus from the Alpha Gamma Chapter at Grand Valley State University, former International Board of Directors member (2006-2008), Regional Director of the East (2012-2013), and current Senior Editor of El Iluminador. Maximo's writing specialties are farcical & satirical humor, social commentary, popular/culture phenomena, and other creative/informative pieces. Some of Maximo's writing influences are LGBTQI/Feminist/Civil Rights Literature, Beatnik Writers, the Hip Hop Culture and countless others who've dedicated themselves to the rich culture of expressiveness created and celebrated by artistic movements from around the world. More of Maximo's work can be found on his website.