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Are you an activist … or a slacktivist?

There is no one more uninspiring than a wallflower, someone whose answer is always “whatever you want.” They may think that they are being solicitous or flexible but honestly, aren’t you irritated when you are always the person in charge of picking out the restaurants, figuring out something fun to do or, creating a defining moment at the office? In my mind, it’s pretty much a cop out!

Lately, there is a growing number of people like me who are getting progressively turned off by the millions of people who think that by “liking”, sharing or vaguely commenting on a post they have somehow contributed to the resolution of a major problem. They actually believe by this very minimal effort, they are participating. But, in actuality – they have passed the buck to someone else to do the heavy lifting. Some argue they are creating awareness but ask yourself, are you “liking” to show that you are involved and care, to make yourself feel better when your real efforts end there? If so, consider that these cursory results equal slacktivism!

An activist is a person who actively campaigns for some kind of social change. When you participate in a march advocating for women’s rights, you're an activist. When you sit down and write your congressman about your stance on an issue important to you, vote or donate to a political campaign, you are an activist. You may be burning Nike products or wearing them proudly, your children may be organizing marches advocating gun control, you may be expressing your opinions through art, documentaries, blogs or music. You are actively doing something, not just clicking, liking and hash tagging. You are doing more than the minimal and participating offline – not just online.

Years ago, when social responsibility initiatives first came on to the scene and a shift in business expectations arose, some companies filtered these new responsibilities through the lens of marketing, not true accountability. You saw tags on clothing suggesting percentages of purchase prices were going to save the rainforest. You were asked to hang up your dirty towels at hotels to help the environment. You witnessed many large corporate marketing campaigns talking about the funds they were donating to charities. But, what you did not see was any of these entities actually “walking the talk” of being socially accountable within their own businesses. Their employees were still treated with a lack of care, investors still lacked confidence and social issues continued to grow faster than they could be resolved.

Consumers got leary about this type of “cause marketing” and began to demand transparency, a new generation of workers are holding out for more and impact investors are leading the market. This responsibility to step up to the plate has now filtered down to individuals. Fake activism has others shaking their heads and saying “Enough already!” As a UNICEF ad says, “Like us on Facebook and we will vaccinate zero children against polio.” They go on to say that they need your funds and your volunteer efforts.

If you want things to change than quit liking and hash tagging, get out of your chair, step out into the world and do something, anything, to show you are walking the talk. Start with your personal efforts and then quickly move into the efforts of your businesses. Are they walking the talk, truly creating a social impact both internally and externally? Or, are they wallflowers and followers, just “liking” what their industry is doing rather than being the leaders in the space.

Activist or slacktivist. Which ever answer you choose, now ask yourself why.

Copyright © 2018 Linda Lattimore – all rights reserved

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