First, let me just throw this out there: “slacktivism” is a fun word to say, and it totally belongs in the dictionary.
Now that that’s out of the way . . .
Earlier today, I took part in a Facebook exchange where my friend Kate had posted this article about the commercialization and exploitative nature of the breast cancer awareness movement. One of my favorite points in the article was how companies have used carcinogenic materials when making their trinkets that they use to show support or spread the word.
It turns out that October is more than just Breast Cancer Awareness Month; it is also Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Rett Syndrome Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Dwarfism Awareness Month, and National Squirrel Awareness Month. It’s also LGBT History Month, Filipino American History Month, and in the UK it’s Black History Month. Oh, and did I mention, Clergy Appreciation Month, Auto Battery Safety Month, Fair Trade Month, National Arts and Humanities Month?
I propose a new month-long event for October: Slacktivism Awareness Month.
Slacktivism is when you re-post, share, or forward something for a cause, especially if it’s a cause you haven’t researched that may or may not be worth supporting. The Kony 2012 video from earlier this year was a good example, and every October when the breast cancer awareness campaigns start some silly game by private messages (Don’t tell your husbands/boyfriends; we’ll make them guess why you’re posting a color) is another good example.
Sometimes these awareness campaigns may actually result in a donation or a contribution, so I can’t say they’re all bad. I’m not even really saying that they’re bad, because people can’t solve problems that they’re not aware of. But the attitude of supporting a cause that is emotionally pitched without looking into it, or . . . for example . . . trying to spread the awareness of cancer with carcinogenic products–well, who in their right mind would appreciate that?
If you’re going to support a cause on the internet, then make sure it’s worthwhile before you go around retweeting or forwarding things. If you’re going to play a silly game where you talk about the color of your bra or where you like to leave your purse, make sure you put a link to where someone can donate. Make the slacktivism pay off.
That’s all I’ve got. Leave a comment and let me know how much you hate slacktivism, or let me know what worthy slacker campaigns you’ve been pulled into. (I’ll admit I’ve been taken in by a few.)