Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a portmanteau 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 take satisfaction from the feeling they have contributed.The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research.
Slacktivist activities include signing Internet petitions, joining a community organization without contributing to the organization’s efforts, copying and pasting of social networkstatuses or messages or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services. Research is beginning to explore the connection between the concept and modern activism/advocacy, as groups are increasingly using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS describes the term “slacktivist”, saying it “posits that people who support a cause by performing simple measures are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”
- Clicktivism, The term “clicktivism” is sometimes used to describe activists using social media to organise protests. It allows organizations to quantify their success by keeping track of how many “clicked” on their petition or other call to action
- Charity, Charity slacktivism can be described as actions in support of a cause that take little effort on the part of the individual. Examples of online charity slacktivism include changing one’s Facebook status to support a cause, joining a charity organization’s Facebook page or “liking” a cause on Facebook, tweeting or retweeting a charity organization’s request for support, signing Internet petitions, and posting and sharing YouTube videos about a cause. Examples of offline charity slacktivism include awareness wristbands and paraphernalia in support of causes.
- Luxury good, This is the act of purchasing luxury brand goods that highlight support for a particular cause and advertise that a percentage of the cost of the good will go to the cause. In some instances the donated funds are spread across various entities within one foundation, which in theory helps several deserving areas of the cause. Criticism tends to highlight the thin spread of the donation.
- Political, Certain forms of slacktivism have political goals in mind, such as gaining support for a presidential campaign, or signing an internet petition that aims to influence governmental action.
Despite the pejorative connotation of the term, a recent correlational study conducted by Georgetown University entitled “The Dynamics of Cause Engagement” determined that so-called slacktivists are indeed “more likely to take meaningful actions.” Notably, “slacktivists participate in more than twice as many activities as people who don’t engage in slacktivism, and their actions “have a higher potential to influence others.” Cited benefits of slacktivism in achieving clear objectives include creating a secure, low cost, effective means of organizing that is environmentally friendly. These “social champions” have the ability to directly link social media engagement with responsiveness, leveraging their transparent dialogue into economic, social or political action.
Yet skepticism of slacktivism’s value certainly exists. Particularly, some argue that it entails an underlying assumption that all problems can be seamlessly fixed using social media, and while this may be true for local issues, slacktivism could prove ineffective for solving global predicaments.