A few posts back I spent some time trying to put my finger on what was wrong people today and how they don’t really care all that much. They aren’t passionate enough to get engaged in things like politics and how our society works. Not even a week after finishing that text, the next one on the same theme jumps out from behind some dusty old boxes up in my ever so messy mental attic.
In a time when people are growing increasingly lethargic and dispassionate about what happens in politics and how, why and what decisions are made I find that the will we used to have for such things isn’t gone, but it has partially shifted focus. One of those things is activism. Or rather: slacktivism.
Way too many people today care less about making an actual difference and instead focus on the appearance of activity. We can no longer muster the energy and passion to get out of our couches and chairs to stand up for something we believe in. We don’t really try to change those things that seem wrong and horrible to us. But we like it when it looks like we’re trying, especially if we don’t have to do any actual work, or sacrifice anything.
Instead of giving time, money or doing work to change our society for the better, we instead pass around status messages on Facebook, change our avatars on twitter or make groups condemning the offensive deed. I struggle to find a word for it other than pathetic but my mind fails me. Reprehensible, perhaps?
“If you know anyone who has had <insert random malady here>, post this as your status for one hour! 9 out of 10 people won’t do this. Will YOU?”
No. Never. You will NEVER shame me into a pointless act like reposting a chain-letter-status of any sort. It won’t raise awareness, it won’t make people donate funds to research, it won’t generate debate about it… It won’t change a god damned thing. Nothing. No, forgive me. That’s not true. It’ll ease your guilt about being an indifferent and obtuse member of a flock of equally dull sheep and make you think that you’ve done something. Maybe you can sleep soundly for a couple of days until that nagging little voice in the back of your head (a.k.a your conscience) has the power to reach into your numb mind again. Maybe the next time you can start your OWN group on Facebook? Yeah, that’ll surely keep the voice dulled for at LEAST a week.
“Random Name has joined the group REAL MEN DON’T RAPE – Click like if U R against RAPE!”
Guess what? I won’t click like. In fact, I’ll even go so far as to suggest that those who DO click it are either morons or have something they need to hide. All things considered, you should feel lucky that I don’t find you and give you this lecture face to face
Let me be absolutely clear: You do NOT need to create or join a group on Facebook to take a stand against rape. All you really need to do for starters is to NOT RAPE PEOPLE. If you’re feeling particularly passionate about wanting to help rape victims, you could volunteer at a shelter for abused women, or donate some money to someone who’s got the willpower and energy to make a damn difference. All your little group does is shame people into joining, so that they too can proudly proclaim that they certainly aren’t pro-rape! If one were to issue a poll that people could answer anonymously, I’m almost willing to bet my left nut that there is almost nobody who is FOR rape.
I don’t know, but before Facebook, did we really feel this urgent need to proclaim the obvious and distance ourselves from self-evident horror? Were there groups walking around with t-shirts that said “Real humans don’t axe-murder other people!” or “Using drain cleaner as toothpaste isn’t good!” before social networking exploded online?
Colored ribbons on the other hand can live on a little longer, because they actually generate some revenue that gets funneled into research to prevent whatever the colored ribbon of the day is a symbol against, but really, it’s starting to outstay it’s welcome in my book too.
Now there are things that fall under the category slacktivism that can actually make a difference. For instance, I participated in the “Wear something purple”-day. For those of you who are unaware, that’s a day where one should simply wear something purple all day, in support of those LGBT-people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual) who haven’t had the courage or opportunity to be open about their sexuality. On the surface, this is another slacktivist statement, but when you dig just a little bit deeper, it ceases to be that simple.
Wearing something purple is incredibly simple and effortless, and it’s also stating something obvious. There are no gay people or straight people or transsexual people. There’s just people. So it qualifies for both slacktivism AND being painfully obvious. But if it can help even one person who’s having to hide their feelings and true identity near you, then it’s worth it… and this can actually help. The trick here is that this isn’t something that is overt and in-your-face for those who are unaware. That makes it almost invisible for those who aren’t affected and those who don’t care. For those who are aware, who care and who might need that extra push – it’s incredibly visible. It’s a clear statement to those who could use that extra push of courage, one that is being shouted from the proverbial rooftops – and yet one that doesn’t bother anyone outside of the “inner circle”.
So… what’s the point of this, then? All my ranting and raving, is that any different from all those people at home spreading status messages or making Facebook groups? I’m not sure. What I’m sure of though, is that my passion doesn’t end here; it follows me every day, and I’ll never stop trying to improve myself and the world around me. You can count on that.