Individual Impact

A word on ‘Slacktivism’

We’d all like to do the most good. But are all strategies equally efficient? Here I explore the trap of online activism, also referred to as ‘Slacktivism’.

Most of us are familiar with it; the instant dopamine rush that follows the amassment of likes and comments on social media. Some of us, myself included, are willing to go to ‘great’ lengths to replicate it at least daily. I wondered, which messages these likes, comments, and shares translated to in our brains? Based on personal experience, I figured they sounded somewhere along the lines of: “I recognise you”, “I value you”, or “You are important”.

The formats we use to paint a favourable picture of ourselves via social media are plentiful. But lately, I have been most fascinated by posts that are not, in fact, about ourselves. Or are they?

They usually look a bit like this:

Stop. This. Now.

[LINK TO video of starving polar bear]

If your Facebook timeline looks anything like mine, you are bound to have come across similar posts.

Sometimes these posts are concise. We wouldn’t want their length to distract from the core message, right? And sometimes they are slightly longer-form posts; containing mainly citations that sum up an article very few people will read in its entirety.

Rather than a display of true altruism, said posts are a great way to let our friends and followers know that we, too, care. And that we are indeed virtuous and good.

As with most good things, however, the aforementioned dopamine rush we experience isn’t made to last. It is soon replaced by a rather empty feeling that begs the question: does all of this even lead to anything real?

A question we may not be ballsy enough to ask ourselves.

Real fulfilment that comes with supporting a cause in real life has given way to ā€˜slacktivismā€™. Today, I’d like to make a case for meaningful, face-to-face experiences. Although there will always be a space for online activists, I decided that I deserved more. More sincere interactions, more real-life impact, and more cool stories!


By louisedesadeleer

Iā€™m a digital marketer with a passion for tech for good, nonprofits, and psychology. I do data-driven marketing experimentation by following users through their journey - from awareness to retention - and ensuring a smooth ride! šŸš²

What drives us to do good? Curious about all things nonprofit, motivation, altruism & ethics. Previously @deedmob ā€” the largest volunteering platform in the Netherlands.

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