Let's Talk About Slactivism

Starting with a quick definition to make sure we are all on the same page, slacktivism is a catchy portmanteau for participating in a cause or campaign, usually on social media,  that involves minimal effort or time. If you’re looking for some examples, think back to any campaign that you’ve ever participated only by talking about it on social media. Did you share the infamous Kony video in 2012 and then not participate in any of the calls to action that were mentioned in the video or have you even thought about Kony since a week after you shared the video? Did you set your profile picture to a pink ribbon this month or tell everyone the color of your bra a few years back and not participate in any campaigns that involved actually giving money to breast cancer charities?

For those of you answering yes to these questions, try not to get defensive and ex immediately out of this article.  There is absolutely a proper time and scenario for slacktivism, but that does not include the fight against breast cancer.  I think the first arguments that come up in defense of slacktivist campaigns are that their purpose is to raise awareness and show support, which is equally as important to finishing the fight. But is there anyone who will see your photo that says "Save Second Base" unaware of its existence?

Didn't think so. I think it's also safe to assume that the general public is anti-40,000-women-dying-from-breast-cancer-this-year and pro-finding-a-cure-ASAP.   If you’re not one to make that assumption, please let me assure you I am aware of breast cancer and I absolutely hope for a cure just like you do, despite the lack of a pink ribbon on my profile.

Another way to think about how ineffective simply acknowledging its existence can be: When the dishes pile up in your kitchen sink, you can raise awareness to your roommates that they need to be done, but at the end of the day, everyone knows the dishes exist and wants them to be done already. Just because you are all aware of the issue, the dishes won’t get done without someone actually doing them. When it comes to raising awareness about this problem, we are so far beyond simply mentioning that it exists.  Raising awareness needs to become persuading others to take an active interest, which starts with taking an active interest yourself. Some suggestions include: getting a group together to run a 5k fundraiser, getting annual screenings and/or mammograms (if your of the typical screening age) and encouraging other women to do the same, or even posting to social media some of the latest research and discovering along with a link for others to donate money in support.  

Like I stated in the beginning,  I fully acknowledge that slacktivism is an excellent tool in the proper setting.  For example, a few years back, when many people (myself included),   made this photo:

Their profile picture as a symbol of support for marriage equality and LGBT rights, it was a great way to show policymakers that there was and still is a large body of public support behind the controversial and polarizing issue.  Slacktivism is very helpful in drawing attention and displaying public support for an issue in order to enact change as long as awareness of agreement is all that’s needed.  However, breast cancer is neither controversial nor polarizing. We are all on the same side, and so, we need more than a profile picture to make something happen.  I absolutely think you should use your facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. profiles to share with others what you are doing to help finish the fight to encourage others to follow in your example.  I’m not against the pink ribbon profile picture, but  it should be a symbol that you are doing something not just clicking something in support of breast cancer research, prevention, and treatment.

Give a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation here

Or choose from this list of charities to get involved with.