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Slacktivism [Mar. 9th, 2011|06:18 pm]
A friend put up a link to a marvellous (& somewhat dry) blog regarding hyped up 'breast cancer awareness' games on FB - i.e. the ones where you post something obscure which is to refer to your handbag/underwear colour or sexual preference (this somehow expected to mysteriously affect men so much they'll want to engage in the cause... surely? although men don't even pay attention to their own testicular cancer, which understandably would/should be more important for them).

But this post is on the surfaced word 'slacktivism'

"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 feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist."

I am without doubt guilty of this... Was I always guilty of this? Yes. I had spells of giving money to Greenpeace & vague intentions to be active in Amnesty (but never did). My active involvement has been giving money, signing petitions, spreading the word about petitions &… nothing more. But in that there are two strong factors: I have serious, personal doubts marching has any effect. Secondly: I really, really sincerely, hand on heart, absolutely honestly, have no time. When work stresses you so much you have heart palpitations (as it did two years ago), then it is somehow hard to find time to be involved in someone’s dire situation in a distant country elsewhere, even though I fully well know their situation is much much worse than mine... It's not that I don’t understand my problems are paltry in comparison – it’s that all of my to-do/ to-prepare-for wraps me up nevertheless. And the little left is time I need as down time, slacker time, thinking/digesting time. Perhaps if I felt I could have a true effect, that it wasn’t a pouring into the bottomless well of cyclic unevolved humanity (be it human slavery, torture & abuse/usage etc), it would be different? Homing a homeless cat = that's hands on, something I can do, giving instant result (granted: I want a cat so we're not really talking a sacrifice here..)

But they are all excuses - it’s the endlessness of causes that deters the most. The non stop misuse and outer world coldness that exhausts the soul; just reading makes your heart tired & ready to drop out of the chest.

At the same time though: you can sort of marvel at people who can’t even find the energy to put a signature to a web petition. Granted, perhaps not every day, but surely, once a week the two minute process cannot cost that much? And with the change of heart on the forest sale, it does seem to occasionally have a true effect.

Upon which: this link is to a cause close to my heart ~ bear bile milking. Please sign if willing to; bears have not only been killed as trophes far more than for the need of meat, but also been for centuries made to dance, fight & wilt away in cages for our entertainment. But sign it mostly because China is likely to care more & more about its image in the world now - so this is a good time & place to say no. The upswing of Chinese traditional medicin is harvesting the body parts of every rare breed left on the planet. These are petitions we can’t afford not to sign as the newly rich/middle class of China cries out for luxury goods & mythical fix it all drugs. If we don't they'll continue treating animals of this earth as theirs alone to harvest.

'Slacktivism' it is – yes – but sincerely: it's better than nothing.

Seriously & lovingly yours ~  Anki Wikman.

Ps. I am, btw, so not getting into my Lycos email account currently, so hold off emails to me this week.


[User Picture]From: vampyresheep
2011-03-09 10:48 pm (UTC)
I hate those silly FB status update things, "to raise awareness". Serves nothing but to give people a moral high ground to think that they are doing something better than you are by participating in the childish game.

I have to confess to being guilty of not doing as much as I should in the name of charity/awareness but this is partly due to cynicism about the whole system ie if you donate money, just how much of it actually goes to the cause or just goes to cover "administration" costs.

I was once a member of Amnesty International too, as I did strongly believe in their cause. However being a member raised my awareness to some of their more extremist views and in addition, I felt they wanted not much more from their members than just more money (I got innundated with letters asking for donations for this, that and the other) rather than any physical way of helping.

Not entirely selfish though. :-) I do sponsor a couple of dogs at the Dogs Trust; figured if I could never own one myself, the least i could do his help to support dogs who can't be rehomed (and in line with my above comment, *hoping* that it does go to help the dogs and not just to pay for all the mailouts and advertising)
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[User Picture]From: ms_jinxme
2011-03-10 09:34 am (UTC)
The first one was vaguely entertaining - but even then I remember thinking it seemed rather pointless; I don't think anyone got the slightest more 'breast cancer aware' by it. The ones after I really stepped away from!... but I did find it hard to say anything as the people who did it are people I really like, & I was loath hurting anyones' feelings. I sort of pretended I hadn't gotten the invite to participate... *heh*

I have joined a petition group, but I have currently suspended any monetary giving because I am so uncertain where I can give without it being misspent. I really badly would like to give towards starvation (I saw some horrible pictures a year ago which really took my breath away), but that is the most corrupt of all - just a fraction reaches these people. I mean, how disturbing is it that Haitians are still waiting to get the monetary help that was given a year ago?!

I did think animal welfare was amongst the 'safest', but a vet friend of mine told me the top-layer-people at RSPCA are just as bad. I think now the possible solution is to give to smaller organisations; I am currently considering a couple of smaller shelters and then some charity that involves doctors going to different countries. Unless someone can give me the heads up for some organisation with a really good reputation!
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[User Picture]From: vampyresheep
2011-03-10 09:44 am (UTC)
I used to know someone who had a PR role for a certain well known charity (mentioning no names) and was shocked to learn just how well paid her job was, along with flash company car etc. It made me think about where exactly the money goes to, which people donate in good faith.

I like to think that petitions *might* do some good, at least its a public notice of support or opposition for a cause. However, this is also a victim off too much bandwagon jumping. People rush to sign stuff to feel morally worthy without reading into the background of the situation, which I think devalues the impact of a petition.
The forestry thing being a good example - I was amazed by the comments of some people on FB, just how ill informed people were (ie thinking we were going to loose all our National Parks, which are absolutely nothing to do with the Forestry Commission!)
So yes, I do sign petitions if it is for something I believe in but not without checking the facts first.
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[User Picture]From: ms_jinxme
2011-03-10 01:53 pm (UTC)
yeah, the 'flash company car' was the story I heard from the vet too... I really wonder how these people can sleep at night. :-((((

Petitions is a bit hit & miss, but at least it's a way to draw attention to things and highlight that there is a concern. That said I am probably guilty of not always knowing the full background - although I am careful not to profess more than what I do know. For me it always seems a complete gamble releasing anything to the private sector, no matter the assurances given; I'd like things to stay in government hands as much as possible. I may have precious little trust in them, but I have even less trust in private interests!
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[User Picture]From: rosenkavalier
2011-03-10 02:17 pm (UTC)
The campaigns that really annoy me are the ones that imply that unless you post the picture/status update/whatever they want you to, you're actively supporting the thing they're campaigning against - 'post this meaningless bit of text as your status, unless you don't want to stop domestic violence'. Cheap, crude emotional blackmail...
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[User Picture]From: ms_jinxme
2011-03-10 05:32 pm (UTC)
Hell, I haven't seen that - but mind you, I tend to stop reading once realising what it is. But that is cheap & crude! It's like those 'friendly'chain mails which you are asked to forward to all the friends you love (who consequently will cease loving you), because if you don't you will BURN IN HELL FOREVER. Or just muck up your fate until you die. A bit like smashing a mirror - although that curse only lasts 7 years. ;-)
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[User Picture]From: void150
2011-03-10 12:38 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, yes this is a topic that really winds me up. I first noticed it in 2009 (before I'd heard the slacktivism used as a term) when the campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to Christmas number 1 was in full swing. I downloaded a copy of the song and then casually asked a few friends (who'd also joined the Facebook group) if they'd remembered to get theirs too, and the question was almost universally greeted with "no, it seemed like too much hassle (and/or a waste of 80p) but I did join the Facebook group, so that's the improtant thing." I then had to politelty point out that pressing the 'like' button on Facebook doesn't have any impact on the UK Singles Chart, and what was the point in 'liking' a cause and then doing nothing useful to support it? They all sort of looked sheepish and then chanegd the conversation, but I don't think my argument really swayed anybody in the end. It wasn't exactly worth getting angry over, since annoying Simon Cowell isn't a charity as such (much though I'd like it to be). But the apathy it revealed in a lot of people did really bother me and still does, especially as I've since noticed it crop up all over the place - well, primarily on Facebook - and often on much more serious causes.

What really pissed me off though was a Facebook meme last year, with people being encouraged to change their profile pictures to a cartoon character, in the hope of highlighting the importance of child abuse. Loads of people did it and I'm yet to be convinced any child abuse got prevented as a result! I think (although admittedly it's been a while now) it was the NSPCC which started that ball rolling too.

I don't really have an issue with online petitions, as long as they're properly organised and they do eventually get seen by movers and shakers of the world (so yes I did sign the one above) but the notion so many people have that 'liking' a thing actually means their opinion is being counted sickens me. I suppose the attitude's always been there, and I can think of plenty of people who've wound me up in the past by saying things like "there's no point in voting, all parties are the same" etc. Maybe social networking has merely made this sort of individual a lot more visible than they used to be... but it's also giving some of them a dangerous false feeling of accomplishment which I think might be genuinely hurting real causes.
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[User Picture]From: ms_jinxme
2011-03-10 05:47 pm (UTC)
Well, you just proved your point because I never realised that the change of profile pic had to do with child abuse! And it certainly didn't make me feel more or less interested in the problem than I already were...

I totally agree that it creates a false sense in people they have done something, when they really haven't. The problem is that being the person who points that out, means you become a person that is 'uncomfortable' to be around - most people don't really want to lose the sensation that they have done something good. But deep down I think we all know the apathy that is very much the sign of our times; I feel like I have to battle my own on a regular basis. But I will disagree with you on the political parties though: I do genuinely feel there's little point in voting - but this is more due to the promises made not being kept. I seriously believe a law should be put in place which stops parties from deserting their promises without some form of penalty imposed; that would kick start people's interest in politics!

I'm glad there's a consensus here about the FB campaigns though ~ I thought for a while I was the only one having these thoughts!

PS. Thank you for signing, btw! There's a slim chance the chinese are so embedded in their culture, that they haven't realised the reaction this has given rise to in other countries until told so. XXX
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