I have a new article for Al Jazeera English on perceptions of “slacktivism” in the Kony2012 and Trayvon Martin campaigns:
Slacktivists are the hipsters of the digital world: everybody recognises them but no one claims to be one. The term likely predates the internet campaigns with which it is now associated – whereas once bumper stickers and buttons sufficed to show conviction, there are now groups to join, videos to share, causes to like, and other static virtual entities whose worth is calculated in clicks. The mediated nature of digital politics distinguishes “slacktivism” from its off-line equivalent: on the internet, one can not only be chastised for one’s purported beliefs but chastised for purporting to believe at all. Accusations of slacktivism rarely concern the cause. They are targeted at the person supporting it, whose sincerity seems compromised by the ease of their allegiance.
Then I defend the slacktivists…sort of.
Slacktivism, often used as a pejorative code word for digital activism, is not a philosophy – it is a process, varying not only within the cause but within the supporter. This became clear in recent weeks as the attention to Kony2012 began to fade – and attention to the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, a cause equally shaped by social media, grew.
Read the full article here.