by: Cassandra Bates
Did we really think we could change the world with just one tweet? OF COURSE! We’re millennials.
“Millennials are difficult, entitled, and spoiled” – Baby Boomers.
Yes, millennials have their flaws associated with them, especially when it comes to taking action. But what generation doesn’t? Just like the millennials, the baby boomers have fallen scrutiny to their own form of judgement from older generations before them. The baby boomers had power in numbers and were considered to be too rebellious for their own good, having just been born in a society post World War II.
This brand of rebellion was given to baby boomers as a result of them being major players and key demonstrations of social activism during their time. In North America, they grew up during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement (racial equality), Antiwar demonstrations (against Vietnam), and the Equal Rights Amendment (women’s liberation). All historical moments of social activism.
Understanding what defined a certain representation of the Baby Boomers youth, we can sympathize with the frustration they have regarding the millennials efforts. In the baby boomer’s eyes, they have seen and made changes in the world that are the structures of which we as millennials live in today. Therefore, causing them to believe millennials seem to be slacking in the effort to sustain or better such world.
Even though this general baby boomer perspective on millennials can be sympathetic to their opinion. The question is now…is it right?
We live in a different world, where one is surrounded by constant digital media and communication. Therefore, to understand if slacktivism is the new millennial of social movements, compared to the baby boomer’s generation. We need to question the effectiveness of what is considered to be slacktivism in the context of digital media.
It is difficult to distinctively say whether digital media is either solely a tool to empowered activism or a potential scapegoat for slacktivism. As different situations and circumstances require a certain level of community engagement based on the needs of the movement. Whether it be a public demonstration of resistance like the baby boomers, or making your more friends educated on the awareness of events through a Facebook post on their wall.
The basics are in today’s world that digital media has proven itself as a tool to create discussion forums on global concerns instantaneously. Promoting voices that are sometimes limited in reach because of geographical, educational, financial, and social limits (but not exclusively). Allowing digital technology to sometimes surpass those barriers. Whether this idea of digital activism can be solely effective or not in increasing participatory change, all has to do with the level of required actions needed to create big enough waves for a social movement.
Therefore, digital media can lend itself to be helpful when trying to promote activism on a scale that encourages community interaction. That being a strong method of propaganda for movements that are easily scalable. Creating a public sphere that shares and publicize opinions where a group of people can come together to support or dismiss topics within society. Asking for awareness of social concerns, and not necessarily the need for a physical social demonstration.
Therefore, where does line between digital activism end and slacktivism begin? Digital activism is a form of mass mobilization or political action on media platforms. Whereas slacktivism tends to be viewed as the means for social change through minimal effort through digital media.
Realistically though both types of media flows are constantly amplified through the introduction and engagement on media platforms from its participants. Specifically, relying on the popularity and audience viewership of media helping to push it to the forefront of the news. Although it may just be one tweet online, it could have enough reach to spark change never imaginable or act as a pledge to an already existing growing movement. Digital media has the ability to push movements into the public’s eye that may not have been flagged otherwise, whether it’s supported by a mass demonstration by the public or not.
Therefore, within the realm of digital activism, it is difficult to claim that slacktivism does not have an impact, no matter how small. Within any movement, there are leaders and followers, even if they play a minimal role. Can we really claim that there can be a minimal level of action to be an activist for a cause? No, because every action is a key player in trying to push a movement forward with the support of the public behind it.
Although we critique the actions of ‘slacktivism’, we have to recognize that it is still a step forward for social movements. Proving an alternative flow of awareness through media can be effective an effective tool, just like millennial’s active place in society. Although we may never understand the life lived by older generations and their struggles, it does not devalue the alternative forms in which our generation functions by. We may be critiqued for being the slacktivism for social movements and the new generation, but it does not mean that we’re entirely wrong. We see and understand the potential for digital media and are trying to give digital media a higher purpose than just memes on the internet.
….And let’s be candid baby boomers, hate is the biggest form of flattery.