The slacktivist placebo

Slacktivism. That one word encapsulates so much of what is wrong with people today—especially people around my age. It’s an annoying and idiotic thing that people take part in.

Slacktivism is essentially fake activism, otherwise known as a placebo for real activism. It consists of useless and pointless activities that people take part in because they, for some reason, think that what they’re doing is going to make a difference.

I feel as though social media is partly to blame for this phenomenon. One of the largest slacktivism-producing websites out there is Tumblr. Yes, I have a Tumblr account, but the amount of stupid ideals people post, repost, reblog and re-everything annoys me to no end. Here’s a newsflash: You can repost a picture of someone holding a sign that says something witty as many times as you want and it’s still not going to change anything. You can post pictures of the damages of abuse and the distress of societal inequality, but it’s still not going to do anything. What you’re doing is null and void.

We see this all over Facebook now. Do people really think that hitting the like button on an image of a dying child is going to save them? Do they really think that the amount of likes a picture has is the deciding factor of whether or not a patient gets treatment? This is laziness mixed with a ridiculous lack of intelligence. I’d go so far as to say that this is really pathetic. Remember all of those emails you would get telling you to forward the message to ten other friends or else your whole family would meet some devastating end? Yeah, it’s the same thing—just on a new medium.

The problem with all this slacktivism on the web is that it infects the real world. People are constantly walking around as if they’re making a difference because they got a unique haircut or because their t-shirt has some words on it. I’m fully aware that I might endure a lot of hate for what I’m about to say but, again, some things have to be said.

The worst form of slacktivism is modern-day feminism. That being said, do not think that I’m against feminism because I’m not. Feminist movements provided ground-breaking social progress that the U.S. desperately needed. But if I can share a small story, it might give you some perspective into why I think feminism has been degraded in the modern era.

At some point near the end of spring term, I was walking on a sidewalk toward Portland State. There were three girls walking my direction, almost shoulder-to-shoulder. Coming from behind them, a guy on a Segway shot right past all three girls and right past me. My thoughts were, first of all, this guy is a jerk, and second of all, he needs to slow down. The three girls, however, vocalized their thoughts by saying, “What a misogynistic [expletive],” and then yelling, “I hope you fall and die!”

Okay. A few things are wrong here. I agree that the guy was an “expletive”. I imagine that anyone who might have fallen victim to his Segway speeding would have thought that he was an “expletive”. But does that make him misogynistic? Does that one event where he was being inconsiderate make him a misogynist? I don’t think so. And how backwards was it for those girls to wish death on him?

My guess is that the three girls were freshman. They’re still young and they still have a lot to learn. But did what they say contribute to social progress? Not in the least. And no, I don’t think that the entirety of the feminist movement today is like this. I just think that a lot of people who wish to be a part of a movement are going about it incorrectly, which is evident by all the slacktivism taking place on the internet.

When I think about feminism, I think about Susan B. Anthony. I think about Lucy Burns. I think about Alice Paul. And when I think about these amazing women and what they accomplished, it saddens me that so few of us are actually willing to fight against inequality anymore. Now it’s just posting another picture (remember that whole Kony thing?). It’s just another fashion statement that says, “I don’t care what people think about me—except I do… or else I wouldn’t be making a fashion statement.” The power of activism and revolt is disappearing.

Once upon a time, a man had a dream and a woman refused to move from her bus seat. Now it’s deluded people sitting in front of a computer screen thinking they’re doing something when they aren’t doing anything. People are taking part in slacktivism for that placebo effect so that they can feel entitled and good about themselves without having made any sort of difference whatsoever.