Throughout reading Malcom Gladwell’s piece on, “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted,” Morozov’s “Slacktivisim” once again echoed throughout my head.
Gladwell opens with a narrative on the 1960 year-long Greensboro sit-in that inspired so many young college students to fight for their Civil Rights. Day-by-day, the protest would grow, as many more wanted to be apart of such a movement. Political theorist Michael Walzer wrote,” It [the protest] was like a fever. Everyone wanted to go.” Eventually, nearly 70,000 students were reported to take part in the sit-in. Despite the arrests and threats of violence, people still participated and banded together for a cause. Gladwell in particular, mentions, without the use of e-mail, texting, Facebook or Twitter.
Nearly 54 years later, our tools of “revolution” are quite different and maybe we have begun to forget what true activism really is. Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have completely recreated social activism (Gladwell, p.2). Gone are the days of rallying or picketing for a cause; that has been replaced by “virtually” signing petitions and sending email chains. Once again, Morozov presents the idea of “slacktivism,” which is as he describes it “an apt term to describe feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact.” He believes that slacktivism is the perfect form of activism for a “lazy generation” of dependent Internet users who would rather post status updates and sign petitions then “fight” for a cause that they believe in. This “fighting” as Gladwell presents it can be labeled as high-risk, as something that involves a high degree of personal connection such as a close friend or a high commitment to the goals and values moreover, “strong-ties” (p.4). While there are strengths in social media outlets, such as fundraising or building identification with a cause, it is not as powerful as campaigning and protesting for something you believe it.
So with this, I ask: are you more willing to engage in “high-risk” activism for a cause that you deeply believe in, or participate virtually through Facebook and Twitter? Do you believe that we are turning into a lazy generation that fails to rally behind causes?