Now that I have appropriated the correct term for it, time to go on a rampage!
Slactivism (noun): support of a cause with a political or social nature via the Internet (read: social media), thus requiring very little actual involvement or effort
I took the privilege of creating a definition from an amalgamation of others, but the gist is there.
Slactivism has become rampant. I first saw the ALS ice bucket challenge a few days ago, and now it is every other post on my newsfeed. Recently, as was posted on BroCast last Tuesday, Robin Williams died of an apparent suicide, bringing in the hoards of uneducated masses preaching about the importance of awareness for depression and ways to “help those in need.” Obviously, ALS and suicide prevention are completely worthwhile causes that require awareness and funding for research, doctors, and appropriate publications. But the 10th time I saw someone touting their own importance by pouring a bucket of lukewarm water containing 3 ice cubes over their head, and claiming that they are “helping” any cause by doing so, I absolutely lost my shit. While this may have actually provoked a shockwave of donations, conversely, the assumption that posting a few sentences on the selfishness, horror, or down right shame of suicide does nothing to bring awareness. It actually makes you look completely unaware and, frankly, callous. These types of actions are done solely for the purpose of making you look and seem more kindhearted than you most likely are.
Whilst, ironically, making you look like a douche.
Awareness is arguably a strong initiate of help for a cause. By bringing awareness to an issue by signing a petition or making public an issue that you or others dear to you consider important, surely there must be a ripple effect. Hashtags are annoying, but they do serve a purpose of bringing together a large group of diverse people over a single issue. But what you are telling the interwebs by pouring water over your head is that you actually don’t want to do anything except get attention for yourself. In fact, what you are literally telling me is that you would rather feel self-important by making a public spectacle of yourself instead of actually donating money to a worthwhile cause. ‘Look at me, I’m so wonderful, kind and generous! I love to fight the good fight on Facebook! Wait, what’s ALS? I’m not even sure that that stands for, but my cousin’s brother’s hot friend recruited me, so better hop to it! This must be way better than donating money, because NOW I’M WET.’
I work in research, a field that requires federal grant funding in order to function and survive. I imagine that every scientist or researcher working in any other branch of research who sees another Lululemon-clad collegiate pouring water over their head just wants to punch their 15-year-old win98 Dell to the ground. Research is a cash-poor industry in need of patronage. If you really need the notoriety, how about you post up a link to the website on which you donated money to a cause you deemed worthwhile so that others can see your action on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or shaved into your beard and blindly follow it. At least then, the idiocy of this Lemming effect can actually do some good. Apparently this slactivism in the form of the “ice bucket challenge” has recently raised quite a bit of money for ALS research. However wonderful this may be for the organization, it still makes me question the motives of those putting up videos of themselves in wet t-shirts without any link to a donating site like Project ALS or the ALS Association.
If you have to slack, I suggest slacking in a productive way. Donate $10 to ALS research. Ask others to donate too. Hell, if you have to, post a link to Facebook. None of these actions requires much effort, but they will actually make a difference. Even if you feel the douchie need to take a selfie while doing it. This is Kitty, signing out.