“The Double-Edged Sword of Slacktivism and Clicktivism: Strengthening Dehumanizing Forces”

By Jaseem Pasha, MD
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Abstract: In the digital age, slacktivism and clicktivism have emerged as a prevalent form of social and political engagement, characterized by minimal effort tasks such as liking, sharing, or signing online petitions. While these actions can raise awareness and create a sense of solidarity for various causes, they also carry unintended consequences that may inadvertently strengthen dehumanizing forces. This essay explores how the superficial engagement of slacktivism and clicktivism can dilute meaningful activism, contribute to the spread of misinformation, foster a culture of performative allyship1, and ultimately empower dehumanizing narratives and practices. The ISEEK research posits that only solution activism leads to significant, lasting social impact and peace, transforming anger into strategic, successful action.

Introduction:

The rise of social media and digital platforms has transformed the landscape of social activism, introducing new forms of engagement, such as slacktivism and clicktivism. These terms often 1 Allyship means active support for the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it. It is used in contemporary social justice activism to describe efforts by groups of people to advance the interests of marginalized groups both in society at large and in particular social contexts, for example universities or workplaces pejoratively describe online actions that require minimal effort, such as liking a post, sharing content, or signing a digital petition. While proponents argue that these actions democratize activism and widen the reach of critical social issues, critics contend they may inadvertently bolster forces that dehumanize and divide.

Defining Slacktivism and Clicktivism:

Slacktivism and clicktivism are often used interchangeably to describe online activities that allow individuals to express support for a cause with minimal effort and engagement. These actions include liking a post, sharing a video, changing profile pictures to show solidarity, signing online petitions, or participating in hashtag campaigns. The ease of participation and the low barrier to entry are hallmark features of these practices, allowing individuals to engage with social issues from behind their screens.

The Debate Surrounding Digital Activism:

Proponents of slacktivism and clicktivism argue that digital activism is crucial in raising awareness and generating quick support for various causes. They highlight the ability of online campaigns to reach a global audience, bringing attention to issues that might otherwise remain obscure.

Critics, however, raise concerns about the depth and sustainability of engagement achieved through low-effort actions that do not require anyone to leave their comfort zone.

Slacktivism and Clicktivism are not only “feel good,” but they also psychologically make these individuals feel less guilty for not doing anything for the underlying root cause. Such behaviors can be seen to compensate for or mask more profound apathy or inaction toward serious issues. Social media allows users to engage in symbolic gestures of support that do not require substantive commitment or lead to significant change. Some research indicates that these online actions can create a false sense of accomplishment and may reduce the likelihood of taking further, more impactful actions. Research also suggests that people might engage in online activism to enhance their public image or align with their social group rather than out of a genuine commitment to the cause. A 2022 study cited by Psychology Today2 indicated that participants believed their peers advocated for causes online primarily for social approval.

The Erosion of Meaningful Engagement: Slacktivism and clicktivism often reduce complex social issues to simplistic online gestures, eroding meaningful engagement. The convenience of expressing support with a click can replace deeper, more sustained forms of activism that require personal commitment and sacrifice. This superficial engagement risks trivializing the struggles behind social movements, reducing them to trends that ebb and flow with the online news cycle.

2 Psychology Today: “Beware of Fake Online Activism, or ‘Slacktivism’ – Mark Travers Ph.D. – November 7, 2023 [https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-instincts/202311/beware-of-fake-online-activism-or-slacktivism]

The Spread of Misinformation: The rapid dissemination of information online, a hallmark of clicktivism, can also facilitate the spread of misinformation. Without the diligence of critical thinking, slacktivist actions can amplify unfounded claims and narratives, contributing to the polarization and misrepresentation of issues. This environment can dehumanize individuals or groups by spreading false narratives that reinforce stereotypes and prejudices.

Performative Allyship3:

Clicktivism and slacktivism often lead to performative allyship, where individuals publicly align with causes for social or self-image benefits rather than out of genuine commitment. This performative nature can overshadow the voices and needs of those directly affected by issues, centering the conversation around the ally rather than the cause. This dynamic can inadvertently perpetuate a cycle of dehumanization by prioritizing the appearance of solidarity over substantive change.

Strengthening Dehumanizing Narratives: The superficial engagement promoted by slacktivism and clicktivism can strengthen dehumanizing forces by failing to challenge the underlying structures and narratives perpetuating injustice and inequality. By focusing on surface-level engagement, these forms of activism can ignore or oversimplify the systemic roots of dehumanization, thereby sustaining the status quo.

Based on ISEEK4 research, only solution activism is known to make a substantial impact, leading to meaningful answers and social peace. It is an excellent substitute for transforming anger into effective, strategic, successful action.

Solution activism, by its very nature, excludes dehumanizing ideologies, false assumptions, and fake theories that are economically predatory, always wanting to preserve the status quo.

Solution activism is the only road to lasting justice and peace, laying the foundation for a civilized society. Solution activism demands action based on wisdom underlying the Golden Rule and the Greater Good Biological Principles.

Human sufferings resulting from a predatory economic system cannot disappear simply through activism, protests, and signature campaigns with no systemic changes at the root level.

On the other hand, non-solution activism may allow quick media attention but at a steep price. It requires violating the law and protests demanding physical confrontations and often facing threats to one’s well-being and life. Usually, in this type of activism, the activists must work tirelessly for those unwilling to leave their comfort zones. Most of the time, these activists ultimately burn out, and the new activists take over and repeat the same scenario generation after generation.

Conclusion:

3 Allyship means active support for the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it.
4 ISEEK is an acronym for International Society for Empowerment, Enlightenment & Knowledge – www.ISEEK.International

While slacktivism and clicktivism have the potential to raise awareness and foster a sense of community around social issues, their unintended consequences warrant critical examination. The challenge lies in transcending the limitations of these digital forms of engagement to cultivate a more profound, informed, and sustained activism that honestly confronts dehumanizing forces. As we navigate the complexities of digital activism, it is crucial to strive for actions that express solidarity, contribute to meaningful change, and uphold the dignity of all individuals.

The ISEEK research posits that only solution activism leads to significant, lasting social impact and peace, transforming anger into strategic, successful action. It inherently rejects dehumanizing ideologies, false assumptions, and economically predatory theories that maintain the status quo, positioning itself as the sole path to enduring justice and societal harmony.

Solution activism calls for actions rooted in the Golden Rule and the Greater Good principles, aiming to address human sufferings caused by predatory economic systems with systemic changes rather than temporary awareness or protests. In contrast, though it may garner quick media attention, non-solution activism often involves legal violations, physical confrontations, and significant personal risk, leading to activist burnout without achieving meaningful change.

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