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22 July, 2005

Slacktivism

I've mentioned before that I'm unimpressed by the very concept of petitions.  An opinion piece at Snopes covers much the same topic (specifically online petitions), but expands it to cover 'slacktivism', another subject attracting my contempt.

[It's defined as]... the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society's rescue without having had to actually gets one's hands dirty or open one's wallet. It's slacktivism that prompts us to want a join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its key defining characteristic is its central theme of participation at no cost, of achieving social change through little or no effort on the part of person inspired to participate in the forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing.

E-petitions are sexy even when they don't have a hope in hell of helping to accomplish their stated goals because they afford us an opportunity to bestow upon ourselves a pat on the back rather than continue to feel guilty about not doing our part. That nothing is really getting accomplished is almost beside the point; we believe we've been part of something worthwhile and so feel better about ourselves.

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