When the Kony 2012 video (a short film to raise awareness of and campaign against African war criminal Joseph Kony) went viral, I first heard the term "slacktivism.” My professor asked the handful of students in our class how a few million views on a YouTube video would stop a warlord. What were our Facebook comments and Twitter shares actually doing to change a horrific situation in Africa? What happened when people stopped posting?
In its simplest sense, “slacktivism” is defined as activism for slackers. Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary and countless critics use the term pejoratively to describe people who support larger causes or social issues by engaging in “feel-good” measures, such as sending a tweet or liking something on Facebook. I know I've done this plenty of times, and I’m not alone – Facebook status updates have become digital soapboxes for people voicing their opinions on politics, global issues, even the weather.
But some critics argue that slacktivists aren’t creating any real-world effects; instead, they are simply making themselves feel good. Sitting at a laptop and pressing the “share” button does not create change, and by performing such simple measures, these individuals are not truly engaged or devoted to supporting a cause.
What social media does, however, is provide a voice and allow those messages to reach the masses instantaneously. The impressiveness of the internet and social media is in its vast outreach and how easy it makes these simple acts. While signing an internet petition or buying a t-shirt with an organization’s logo on it may seem like passive measures for people who aspire to create change on a grand scale, many – especially the "Millennials" – feel that such small acts are the initial sparks in the fire.
Slacktivism has been attributed almost exclusively to the Millennial generation, my generation. People ages 18-30 currently dominate the online and social media world. It’s not surprising, seeing as we are the largest generation in U.S. history. In his new book, “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping Our World,” David D. Burnstein explains that the Millennial generation is strongly committed to their high ideals, beliefs and values. (via Salon.com) We have lofty goals and idealistic visions of how the world should be, and we think that's great. However, we recognize that to achieve such ambitious goals, we need to start small and take incremental, practical steps. Since Facebook and Twitter and Instagram have become integrated in our daily lives, it makes sense that we Millennials are more confident and comfortable taking action through these online tools.
But what is the real-world value of a few thousand Facebook “likes”? Can a YouTube campaign or a Twitter hashtag end world hunger? Maybe not singlehandedly, but it surely can't hurt.
While an hour spent online is different than an hour spent volunteering at a homeless shelter, it can lead to the same impact. A study from Georgetown University examined how Americans learn about and interact with social issues and causes. Traditional forms of activism, such as volunteering or donating money to a cause, do outpace slacktivism. However, social media is often the means to the same end. Results from the Georgetown study showed that those who engage in social issues online are actually twice as likely to volunteer and participate in events offline.
For me, a small contribution is better than none. As often as I can, I use sites like these, which donate money, food, clothing and more to those in need:
TheHungerSite.com It takes less than a second to click, it's free, and it donates food to people in 74 different countries. You can also choose to preserve land by clicking on The Rainforest Site, donate a book to a child with The Literacy Site, and a handful more. Each site has its own online store with jewelry, clothes, and gifts – when you purchase something, you donate even more.
FreeRice.com Play vocabulary games and other trivia, and for each question you get right, 10 grains of rice is donated through the World Food Programme. There is even an SAT prep game to help you practice grammar and expand your vocabulary.
GoodSearch.com Forget Google – this site donates a penny to the non-profit organization or school of your choice every time you search the web. You can choose to support causes such as UNICEF, the ASPCA, United Way, and Stand Up to Cancer.
TabForACause.org Similar to GoodSearch, this site donates to charities every time you open a new tab in your web browser. I frequently have 10 tabs open at once, in multiple windows, even in multiple web browsers. Finally, my short attention span can do more good!
ClickForYourCharity.org Formerly FreePoverty, this site asks you to watch a 30-second advertisement – the same ads you're already watching on TV. The difference is, the organization donates 100% of its ad revenue to foundations such as Water For People. 30 seconds laughing at a Doritos commercial provides a week's worth of clean water to someone in need.
I only wish more companies and businesses would catch on. It may be a drop in the bucket, but when these simple concepts are put to use by the masses, massive change can occur. When millions of people are discussing a cause through social media – though we may not be the creating the change we desire – progress occurs.
What are your thoughts about slacktivism and how social media is changing the way we change the world?
At StudentAdvisor.com, we have officially launched the Scholarship Advisor app for iPhone and iPad users that provides students with quick access to thousands of college scholarship opportunities worth millions of dollars. The free app connects users with fast and easy tools to search, match, save and share scholarships so that students never miss a scholarship application deadline. Download now!
“Spring is ‘college decision season’-- the time of year when hundreds of thousands of students receive news about their applications to colleges,” explains Dean Tsouvalas, StudentAdvisor’s editor-in-chief. “The Scholarship Advisor app creates a ‘fast lane’ to find scholarships and financial help to make opportunities happen for aspiring students of all ages.”
Available at StudentAdvisor.com, or the iTunes app store as a free download, the Scholarship Advisor app includes a wide assortment of academic and nonacademic scholarships that can help traditional and nontraditional college students fund their education.
“With the rising costs of education, more and more students are looking for help to make college more affordable,” said Tsouvalas. “They can’t afford to miss out because a [scholarship application] deadline passed without them knowing. Since many scholarships are small, regional, or not well-known, the Scholarship Advisor app brings these scholarships within reach of those who need money for college.”
To learn more about the Scholarship Advisor app, visit StudentAdvisor.com/scholarhips.
My friends Jacqueline Jones
and Sophie Vlessing, who work for Kaplan Higher Education, invited me to NYC to watch a taping of their “Visionary Voices” webinar tonight at 7 p.m.
Jacqueline is interviewing Brendan Browne, who is in charge of recruiting at LinkedIn. They plan to discuss ways that social media can positively enhance your job search as well as your career advancement.
I’m personally excited because Browne has epic insights on leveraging the power of LinkedIn. I recently read a statistic that said 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and research candidates. Additionally, LinkedIn just reached 200 million registered users - so it surely is the place to be if you want to advance your career or find a new job.
The conversation starts at 7 p.m. tonight. It’s free but you need to register. You can ask questions and have them answered by someone who honestly knows the best practices of LinkedIn. A couple of questions that I’d like to ask are:
- How can you leverage social media to advance your career?
- What should one do to make their digital brand stand out from the crowd?
- And my last question – what should you do if someone asks you to recommend them on LinkedIn but you don’t feel comfortable…
Looking forward to learning from you!
About This Webinar
DATE: January 17, 2013
TIME: 7 - 8 p.m. EST
You must register to attend this free, interactive webinar. Here’s how:
1. Go to the KapX website. Registration will ensure that you receive a reminder to attend.
2. To attend the webinar on January 17, log in to https://kapx-site-dev.appspot.com/events/talent-acquisition-webinar/ a few minutes prior to 7 p.m. EST using your email address and the password you created when you registered for the event. If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, please register and we will email you the recording of this event.
Kaplan Higher Education, like StudentAdvisor, is owned by The Washington Post.
What do U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
, Russell Simmons,
United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young
and NBA Superstar and Businessman Dikembe Mutombo
have in common? They are all featured speakers at this year’s Operation HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit
What is the Operation HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit? The event focuses on Community, Character and (Responsible) Capitalism - three tenets that apply to financial dignity and higher education. Learn more!
by Taylor Cotter
This week is Techonomy, an exclusive three-day conference in Tucson, Ariz. where thought leaders come together to discuss techonology, government, data and business. Over the next three days, we are excited to see how their ideas apply to higher education and education techology.
If you're missing out on Techonomy, check out Kaplan University - the official education partner of Techonomy is taking us inside the coference with live event coverage and an interactive webinar. Read more...
To learn more about Kaplan University's coverage, click here.
For students, graduates, alums and lifelong learners, jobs have always been of the utmost importance. However, economically, jobs are becoming even more valuable for countries and leaders. In his book, The Coming Jobs War, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton draws on 75 years of studies and his own perspective as the company’s chairman and CEO, and explains why jobs are the new global currency for leaders.
On September 20th, as part of Kaplan University's Visionary Voices series, Kaplan will interview Jim Clifton on how students can get back on the right path for the future of education. Focusing on insights from his recent book, The Coming Jobs War, Jim will also share his insight into the skills needed for the future workplace.
Join Kaplan University for this webinar by registering here.