• Eli Osei

Prompt Series- Week one: Slacktivism

Hey! Welcome to the first installment of Ukuzibuza’s prompt series. We hope to create a platform that allows for constructive conversation and education. We open our series with a discussion around slacktivism. Slacktivism (also referred to as hashtag activism, armchair activism, and popular activism amongst other names) is the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions. It is largely characterized as involving very little effort and commitment. In this way, slacktivism is often viewed as a shallow act, solely concerned with increasing the ‘feel-good’ factor / boosting the egos of the participants in the movement. Over the past few months numerous discussions surrounding slacktivism, its benefits, and its shortcomings have taken place. But where is the happy medium? Does it truly exist? You tell us. Week one’s headline is simple, it’s quick and it’s waiting to be engaged with.


To What Extent Is Slacktivism Valuable?:


Innately, a response has already popped into your head. You’re thinking “of course it does!” or “not according to my uncle,” but why is that? Maybe you know, maybe you don’t. Regardless, we invite you to take a look at the following articles that aim to provide a basic level of education around slacktivism. With these articles in mind: the conversations we have will be premised on a level of understanding that allows us to engage with each other as best as we can.


Articles:


  1. Slacktivism’s benefits:

  • This article looks at slacktivism in a positive light.

  • Key takeaways:

  • Slacktivism has the power to raise awareness.

  • Slacktivism gets people involved in movements that they otherwise would not associate themselves with.

  • Due to the great amount of support slacktivism brings in: slacktivism makes it easier for movements to achieve what they want.


Essentially, this article argues that many hands make light work.

Give it read:

https://theconversation.com/slacktivism-that-works-small-changes-matter-69271



2. Slacktivism’s Shortcomings:

  • This article speaks to the problems with slacktivism.

  • Key takeaways:

  • Slacktivism leads to self-gratification...

  • making it the end of many people’s activism…

  • leading to a lack of on-the-ground work…

  • and thus a lack of structural change.

For a detailed explanation, with examples, of this check out the following article:

https://kenyoncollegian.com/opinion/2019/12/virtue-signaling-and-the-dangers-of-social-media-activism/



3. An Attempt at finding a happy medium:

  • The article looks at both the positive and negative. Attempting to urge the reader to strike a balance between social media activism and more tangible work.


Read the article here:

https://blog.oup.com/2014/11/slacktivism-clicktivism-real-social-change/



Check these three pieces out and form your own opinions. In no way do we want to dictate how you view slacktivism. We simply feel that these three well-written articles might provide some helpful context before engagement.



Talking Points:

Below is a list of questions we’ve put together for you to answer. They are just springboards to get conversations started so if you feel that you’ve got something to add that doesn’t fall under the parameters of the questions, there will certainly still be room for you to contribute!


  • Does slacktivism actually achieve anything?


  • Is slacktivism inherently performative and self-interested? Do slacktivism and virtue signaling go hand in hand?


  • How do we differentiate between the instances in which slacktivism is genuine and those in which it is disingenuous?


  • Does slacktivism = allyship?


  • Do you think the notion that ‘silence is compliance’ applies to slacktivism?


  • How significant of a role does slacktivism (and by extension social media) play in the movement/revolution?


  • How do we achieve a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of slacktivism?


  • How does one engage with other forms of activism in the midst of COVID-19? Has the pandemic changed the way we engage with activism?


  • What does your ideal form of slacktivism look like?



Take the evening to think about slacktivism. Talk your thoughts through with your friends, your family, your neighbours, your pets, that tiny crack on the wall that you’re 99% sure is smiling at you. Tomorrow morning we'll be putting up story posts on our Instagram page @Ukuzibuza for you to respond to.


We hope that this is the beginning of a series of constructive, necessary, and valuable conversations about important issues that affect the world around us.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.


- The Ukuzibuza team


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