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I'm glad and excited that technology has given voices to people who would otherwise be silent, myself included. I'm relieved that getting fired up on camera is no longer limited to Fox anchors or the Mad Money guy. I'm thrilled that people can change the world with a YouTube video or blog post, but this excitement is tinged with the worry that the system is starting to fail.
"Clicking" on Facebook to save the life of a child in the poorest regions of the world, language that seeps in to pricey corporate social responsibility campaigns online, encourages clicktivism and slacktivism. For any important issue, such as electoral reform, clicking on a petition or 'liking' a YouTube clip doesn't cut it.
Skeptics take heed: to dismiss online activism as mere slacktivism is to ignore one of the very real positive social benefits of the internet. But a warning to activists as well: e-petitions can help you change the world, but only when mixed with a little old-school elbow grease.
Raising awareness is often a good first step, and functions well as a means to an end -- but it cannot be viewed as an end in itself. Activism simply does not end with the sharing of a Facebook post or a retweet; it's great to tell your friends that something is important enough to share with them, but it's virtually meaningless if it doesn't lead to further action.
The Occupy Movement was wholly underwhelming, and the Kony campaign seemed like a good idea, but an unclear mix of actions didn't lead to much. These sorts of campaigns made me angry, but in Iceland and in the United States, there are examples of how "slacktivism" can actually lead to change