If every movement begins with being moved, should it matter how the movement is started? Are slacktivist actions less important? Is it “American” to want low-risk, low-cost, technologically mediated participation/activism? If it’s not “American” what is it? What are the positive and negative outcomes of such participate (slacktivism)?
Initially, it may seem that it is “American” to want low-risk, low-cost, technologically mediated participation/activism, however, after a closer look, it is not “American”. During the Arab Spring there were countless protests facilitated through the use of social media. KOBY 2012 spread to the entire world trough the avenue of Twitter. Slacktivism is not “American”, it’s “smart”. It’s smart because it adapts and changes. Societies are not stagnant. They change and they grow. Thus, technologies, must also grow and change with society. Shirky explains that “we now have communication tools that are flexible enough to match our social capabilities, and we are witnessing the rise of new ways of coordinating action that take advantage of that change” (Shirky, 20). Furthermore, he explains, “Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society, they are a challenge to it. A culture with printing presses is a different kind of culture from one that doesn’t have them. New technology makes things possible: put another way, when new technology appears, previously impossible things start occurring. If enough of those impossible things are important and happen in a bundle, quickly, the change becomes a revolution” (Shirky, 107). What Shirky has just described is the Arab Spring without even knowing it. Here, Shirky could also be describing a new kind of activism, a revolution towards slacktivism. This revolution is not American; it is smart; it is human. Humans have always taken advantaged of the technologies of the time. Right now we are in the midst of a shift in activism.
Shirky also places great importance on group action to understand the changing of social media. He explains, “[b]ecause the minimum costs of being an organization in the first place are relatively high, certain activities may have some value but not enough to make them worth pursuing in any organized way. New social tools are altering this equation by lowering the costs of coordinating group action” (Shirky, 47). The cost of coordinating group action could not be lower than they are with slacktivism. Slacktivism still entails responsibilty to the cause as did traditional activism: “Information sharing produces shared awareness among the participants, and collaborative production relies on shared creation, but collective action creates shared responsibility, by tying the user’s identity to the identity of the group” (Shirky, 161).
Slacktivism is necessary as our tools are changing. We must learn how to adapt rather than fight against it.