Activism vs. Slacktivism



“The winner in a political contest is determined by the number and the effectiveness of the activists on the respective sides.” -Morton Blackwell

Activism is a great way to effect social and political change. Unfortunately, it’s often confused with its lazy, ineffective, poser cousin: slacktivism.

Are folks struggling just to get by? Are the wars still going on? Is there an acute deficiency of low-carb bread at your local supermarket? Wrongs aren’t going to right themselves. Get some markers and some cardboard and take it to the streets!

With a couple of caveats. First, note the key element in the word “activism”: “active.” If the key to effecting social and political change involved inactively complaining about all of society’s ills, it would be called passivism. And while there is a place for us keyboard warriors to attempt to convince friends and family and debate the finer points of philosophy without cease, it’s no substitute for real activism. At some point you have to leave the house, engage with real people, and make your voice unforgettably heard.

Second, activism must be effective. You can go out and demonstrate everyday without fail and still fall short of your objectives. Simply communicating your views isn’t enough. You have to craft a focused message, word it in a concise, impactful way, and stay on target. You must find a public forum for your message where it will be heard to its maximum potential. You need media coverage of your activism that is positive and far-reaching. And, most important of all, you need to show up consistently, with sufficient numbers, in an organized fashion.

Activism is there on time without fail. Slacktivism shows up when it feels like it. Activism plans briefly before executing. Slacktivism is permanently stuck in the planning phase. Activism knows what it’s doing beforehand. Slacktivism haphazardly shows up and sees what will happen. Activism shows restraint in tone and scope of messaging. Slacktivism shouts and rambles without thought to the intended message getting through. Activism is an organized, well-oiled, effective machine. Slacktivism is chaos, equal parts laziness and lack of self-control.

Activism is professional. It’s work. It’s the real deal. Slacktivism is amateur and fake. What approach will you use to advance your cause?

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.