Thursday, August 16, 2012

Signing an Online Petition is NOT Slacktivism

Yesterday I wrote this comment on a blog post called Stop Calling Them Slacktivists that argued that slacktivism can create change.
I don’t consider signing an online petition an example of slacktivism. Just because it is easy and quick, that doesn’t mean it’s slacktivism. We can’t paint all social media campaigns with the same brush. A lot of people do and this hurts the reputation of the good social media campaigns.

It’s stuff like disgusting #boobstagram that is full blown slacktivism because it lacks actionable information. Even a successful awareness campaign can count as slacktivism if its purpose is to get people to do something redundant and unnecessary. People know to examine their breasts. People know to get mammograms. No one knows what causes breast cancer. Few campaigns exist to help low-income women get access to treatment. Few people know that many breast cancers can’t be detected by the heavily promoted methods, if at all. Of course #boobstagram doesn’t touch on any of these realities that we must address to make change. Another reason it is slacktivism.
If a campaign doesn’t deal with the root of the problem, reinforces what created the issue or tries to deflect attention from the real issues, especially for marketing gains, then it is slactivism.
I also think that online petitions are not slactivism because they (well, most I've seen do) include true awareness about an issue. Just tonight I signed an Avaaz petition protesting a proposed pipeline in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. The petition described the proposal and explained the impact this would have on the environment. It also gave voice to First Nations' opposition.

 I spoke out against #boobstagram in a blog post earlier this year.

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