Gosh, I haven’t posted in FOREVER. I keep meaning to, but then I get sidetracked, but now I have nothing to do and I am making myself write this before I forget, because I’ve had this idea in my head for a post for days. I think I will, from now on, think of ideas for posts and write them as soon as I get the idea, and then put them on my blog at slightly more regular intervals.
So, today’s post. I’m going to be talking about slacktivism (or keyboard activism; I’ve heard both terms), since the so far highly controversial Sochi Winter Olympics are just around the corner. Over the last few weeks I have been incessantly emailed by some of those online petition websites, asking me to sign petitions about just about everything. Call me cold-hearted, but it is kind of annoying.
All those emails about petitions and upcoming protesty events made me think: do these things actually work? I think last year I signed one petition– something to do with the Daily Mail being evil– and I believe that did work, and caused the newspaper to issue some kind of apology for the faux pas they made. (Well, there is the question of if the ‘faux pas’ were deliberate or not, but I won’t get into that.) But, since then, I have probably been emailed SO MANY other petitions by these websites, but more often than not that’s all I get. I see one petition, saying that in a certain number of days they’re going to do something like go outside the headquarters of a corporation and protest, and then, after that, nothing. Did it work? Did it not work? What?
So is there really any point in signing those online petitions, when it’s obvious that many of them fail? Personally, I think that you sure can, if you want, but you have to know that that one petition won’t change the world. Signing that one petition against Russia’s anti-gay laws won’t get them lifted. Signing that one petition to get big corporations to pay the right amount of tax won’t suddenly make them start paying. BUT, it does show that people disagree with how one thing or another is being done, so that may get the perpetrators to think a bit more about what they’re doing. If you protest enough, things have got to change. And, looking at history, that is quite obvious.
Let me now talk about the title of the post: slacktivism. That is what signing those sorts of petitions is called, and if you sign those sorts of petitions you are a slacktivist. It sounds like quite a negative thing, doesn’t it? It sounds like the anarchists, from on high, are laughing at you and saying how you’re not motivated enough to get out in the streets with your banners and flags, proclaiming (violence optional) that things need to change. But I think that’s unfair. Personally, I see why people would not want to go out and protest, why people wouldn’t want to risk getting arrested (or worse) to prove their point. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to do that. It doesn’t mean you don’t support the cause any less. I bet loads of us think Russia’s anti-gay laws are totally unfair, but they wouldn’t be willing to fly to Russia and walk the streets with rainbow flags or anything like that. So, they go and sign a petition to try and achieve the same thing. They’re slacktivists, but I wouldn’t say that’s a negative word. Because the main thing is, they are all, activists and slacktivists alike, trying to get the same thing. I would say the ends justify the means, but I don’t know, that doesn’t seem like the right quote to use at this point!
So, what about me? Am I a slacktivist? Well, I have to admit, I have signed a fair few of those petitions that have been emailed to me. My justification is that it takes like a minute, you don’t have to give your details, and c’mon, as Tesco says, every little helps. If my one signature helps injustice in the world be wiped out, then that’s great. If it doesn’t, then no harm done. (Well, to the people being oppressed by the injustice, there’s probably lots of harm done, but I’m saying that for me personally I have felt no ill effects of signing a petition and it doing nothing.) So, yes, I would consider myself a bit of a slacktivist. But I’m not using that label in a negative way at all!
Now time to hear your thoughts. Have you signed any of those sorts of petitions? Have you ever done some proper, hardcore protesting? Or do you think that all of that stuff is pointless? And are YOU a slacktivist?
Your slacktivist blogger, Jaz