With social media’s rapid expansion, the internet has seen a wide variety of activism campaigns, which frequently find its way into the public’s email and Facebook feed. However, one of the results of all these campaings has led to a new breed of activism: slacktivism. What is slacktivism? It is used to describe the online activism that has zero social or political impact. Evengy Morozov presents a variety of interesting questions regarding slacktivism in his article “The Brave New World of Slacktivism.” Is it beneficial to have slacktivists participating in a campaign by having them click to support the cause? Morozov is skeptical. He states that “it’s easy to dismiss most criticism of “slacktivism” as simply unproductive: after all, having thousands of people…suddenly start practicing the kind of click-based “nano-activism” available via Facebook and Twitter could be extremely useful, if only for specific campaigns that would, indeed, benefit from increased public attention.” (Morozov, 2009) Campaigns have the ability to benefit from their slacktivists who prefer to contribute from behind a computer. According to Morozov, they gain more attention for the particular campaign and possibly increase its chances of gaining more activists. However, while public attention can do good things for a cause, I don’t believe that it can replace the organizational work put in by more involved activists.
In Eli Pariser’s book, The Filter Bubble, he talks about the sophistication of the internet and how it leads to a “filter bubble” for online users. The filter bubble describes what kinds of advertisements and news user are exposed to online. Pariser makes the case that users will only be exposed to news and ads that relate the user’s specific interests. With the internet being so personalized, it can be difficult for users to discover different views on political and social issues, along with hiding users from opinions different from their own. Consequently, this filter bubble can answer the question presented by Morozov.
When slacktivism’s best attribute is spreading the message of a campaign, is the filter bubble preventing that from happening?
Is a user’s online experience so personalized that it blocks the spread of online activism campaigns?