The term “slacktivism” has been discussed a lot in relation to KONY2012. It is funny really, if you Google the word, most hits are connected to the KONY issue! So what is it really? One definition from Wikipedia goes like this: “Slacktivism (…) is a term formed out 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 that to make the person doing it feel satisfaction.”
This definition puts the so-called “slackers” in a bad light, to be honest; I think the word “slacker” does so too. It basically says that persons not doing more than sharing a link about an issue is not doing this to support the issue but for the sole reason that he or she want to feel good about themselves. I actually do not understand why we have such a word, the more I think about it, I feel like we are having double standards. The rise of social media has been a hot topic in recent years and it still is. Everyone is starting to realize what power lies in the hands of “the people formally known as the audience” as (Jay Rosen). There are thoughts of mainstream media not being needed anymore because with social media we have created a more informative public sphere. We have even witnessed regimes fall to the ground due to use of social media (The Arab Spring).
What I do not like is that being an “activist” is seen as better than a “slacktivist”. Maybe it is mainstream media way of suppressing and badmouthing the new social media..? I would say that in both cases people are showing their support for a certain issue. When I first shared the KONY2012 video on Facebook I thought to myself that it would help spread the message, which were the point of the campaign. People tend to think that there is not much they can do to make a difference in the world, that they are just one person and that no one will hear them anyway. Clicking that one button to share something they find important might be the “only” thing they feel they can do.
Technology today is saying otherwise, it is saying that we CAN be heard, that we CAN make a difference. With media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, one voice can turn into 1 million voices in just a week. The KONY2012 video was, after my opinion, an online activist campaign. It definitely created awareness in the world, both good and bad, which is an activists goal. It created a reaction and according to the Herald Sun and CNN perhaps it also made someone take action. I think it is the new way of activism. Does it have to be rebellious, violent and messy before it can be called real activism? Everything is changing with the social media. Everything is going from being analog to being digital, so why not activism as well.
Sam de Brito wrote a column in the Sydney Morning Herald about slacktivism and the KONY2012 issue. I think it was really good and gives young people with good intentions some well deserved credit.