Arm ChairActivists are important facets in pushing back against oppression and questioning power structures. Activists raise awareness for social injustices. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist. bell hooks is an activist. President Obama was an activist when he was organizing in Chicago. But the rise of online petitions and Twitter activism has replaced marches and strides toward progressive legislation.

Social networking can be a powerful tool in activism, but using Twitter, Facebook and Change is not adequate engagement in social movements. Easier access has inspired a generation of armchair activists who are content with posting links, creating faux outrage and then letting the issue die once the media coverage stops.

Armchair activism encourages complacency, but most of us, me included, fall into the trap. The Harvard Crimson sums up the detriment best, “Effective activism that creates lasting change takes effort and is often very frustrating. In fact, if an action is shiny, prepackaged, easy, and does not require any research or other sort of effort on the doer’s part, that is probably a sign that it is not going to be highly effective. If we hope to make a difference, it is essential that we are critical of such representations.”

Are you an armchair activist?

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  • Kam

    I disagree, I’d think it would be an enormous missed opportunity if people didn’t social media. Don’t sleep on it, people do in fact take notice. Learn how to harness social media for your own benefit. And even when the effort has been the most lazy, like changing your picture to a cartoon character to protest child abuse, or stating the color of your bra for breast cancer, these things actually still caused news articles to be written on the subject.

    In either case, I don’ think slactivism or armchair activism is a big enough problem for us to be worrying about. It seems not to be taking over actual activism as we’ve seen in the past year. I see many people taking charge and actually putting in the hardwork for a cause to believe in. And for those that don’t have their sleeves rolled up it’s good to have support from them anyway.

  • stef

    welcome to the 21st century, in which real activists are no more, in there place we have cyber activists. People who can write a great blog,tweet, youtube video, article,or comment but when it comes to taking it to the street nope to much work, don’t have time i have to go to brunch..

    I dont care I have a serious problem with cyber activism, especially social media activism. if we used social media like they did in Egypt, Iran, south asia where it was used as a tool to organize protest great. But what we have in the U.S. is social media activism for people with ADD. case in point “kony” i’m not going to get started on how flawed it was. But it was a example of so called activism that lasted a week , made some noise and now is forgotten.