Is It Still Slacktivism If It Helps To Make The World A Better Place?
My morning starts with opening the Twitter and Instagram app on my phone even before I attend the nature’s call because the fear of missing out on something important has gripped me forever. On some days the content is still the same as the previous night, on other days the world turns upside down with new updates. The speed at which the things are moving, hashtags change frequently and what you might have ignored previously, is now the burning issue. A post made by a user who only has 300 followers might be re-shared a million times if it strikes the right chord.
The social media is increasingly becoming a different world of only blacks and whites with some people desperately trying to give it a shade of grey. It has led to online groupism, with some extremist groups, some neutral groups and some silent spectators. Initially, social media was only used for sharing personal information but a few years back it became a platform where people from far and wide came together with a common purpose. To understand how social media platforms are shaped today, let us go a little back into history.
In the early 1900s, the term activism was coined. Put in simple terms, activism is the act of supporting an act/policy/cause/decision with energy. Though sometimes rebellious and violent, activism is the most popular form of expressing public opinion or, opinions publicly. At the start of the 21st century, things started going online. Everything from buying apparels to renting a home could be done on the internet. Social media became an overnight sensation where individuals could express themselves and voice their opinions. Gradually came the term ‘Slacktivism’.
Slacktivism is when people take to social media to support a political or social cause. However, it is called slacktivism because many people believe that the commitment on social media is not strong enough to make an actual change. These beliefs and assumptions have been proven wrong on countless occasions with strong actions actually being taken in response to an enormous outrage on the internet. Much of it has been possible due to the ‘Hashtag activism’ where a single hash created a large movement. A local example could be that of saving the Arrey forest, by activism combined with slacktivism which helped save hundreds of acres of forest in state of Maharashtra, India. A global movement of getting justice against sexual abuse and harassment which exposed several big names started with a single hashtag MeToo.
All these movements are examples of people coming together from various corners of the globe to express their opinion about an ongoing issue and bring about a change in the political regime or social environment. But if you look closely at all these movements, they all started with one individual who decided to stand up for himself or herself or others; followed by support from other social media users.
While some may call it showing off or gaining popularity, it is about speaking up for something which is not right or taking responsibility for spreading awareness or about appreciating something which is worthy of. There are so many Instagram posts where people post about finding an owner for a pet or about promoting a homemade sweet or about making donations for a cause. It may not be of importance to majority of the people but to someone who has just started a business or someone wants to bring about a change it is of great importance. When the COVID-19 pandemic halted the world, people were still connected to each other through social media. It not only helped people sail through the unprecedented times but also helped people understand and harness the power they have to make a change through social media.
Supporting local NGOs will not only help those NGOs but it will make our community a better place. A place where the underprivileged are not denied their rights, a place where there is still ray of hope, a place where digital actions do make a difference.
Ur Gesture is an effort in that direction to bring out those small local NGO that really need your attention