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Point/ Counterpoint: Slacktivism

SLACKITIVISM IS NECCESARY // Gem Sheps

Although protesting is a right under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, the ability to protest is a privilege.

The current political climate of the US has led to an increase in protests around the nation and the world. The global Women’s March on Washington garnered an outstanding 5 million-plus participants this January, but those who were unable to march may still have supported from afar and must not be forgotten.

The march took place on a Saturday in order to maximize attendance, as people with weekday nine-to-five jobs would be off work and available to march. However, many lower class protesters were unable to attend, as they couldn’t get the day off work from less structured jobs in the retail and fast food industries.

Luckily, the Women’s March hosted an online protest for those unable to attend in person—people who had to work, people with disabilities, people with prior obligations and responsibilities, and others who simply couldn’t make it to the march. Each online protester was added to the March’s worldwide count, bringing the tally of participants to its staggering number.

This approach to protesting is deemed “slacktivism” by many, but for some, it’s the only form of activism available. Not everyone has the luxury of weekends off work or even the ability to stand in a crowd and hold a sign. Joining a physical protest is empowering and unlike any other experience, but it’s not always accessible, and it’s not the only way to be sure one’s voice is heard.

Educating oneself and, in turn, educating others, is an important part of activism that isn’t limited to protesting. Reading and sharing articles from reputable sources online is an incredibly helpful way to inform oneself and others. Fact-checking articles and searching for news from reputable sources keeps fake news in check and avoids allegations of exaggeration and lies.

Another way to be politically active is to call government officials’ offices and voice complaints to a representative. Every complaint is taken into account and this form of protesting takes nothing more than access to a phone and a few short minutes of time.

Slacktivism is a term that comes from those with privilege. The voices of people who can’t attend a protest are often the voices that need to be heard the most. Don’t discount the importance of protesters who can’t join a march.

LIKING A POST ISN’T THE SAME AS PROTESTING // Dilkush Khan

Protests and marches have been going on for decades, but the way people are participating in civil disobedience has now changed. In our political climate, more and more people are protesting, but more and more people are also participating in slacktivism.

According to the Oxford dictionary, Slacktivism is defined as, “Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.” It’s an easy way to still feel politically involved.

If a person feels strongly about something, they must actually be out there, protesting, rallying, marching alongside the many others who feel the same way. Sitting in bed and commenting on a “Pro-Life” Facebook page, for example, isn’t the same thing as going to the State Capitol and marching alongside other men and women who feel the same way. Just share thoughts and feelings online does not ignite social change the same way; protesting demands action.

Liking or commenting on a post is not being proactive or even involved. If a person thinks building a wall on the border of Mexico isn’t a good idea; protest. If a person believes that the recent travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries is unethical and unconstitutional; rally with the others at the airport.

Things have become so much easier for Millennials. There are more ways to travel, more ways to communicate, and more ways to get involved in modern times. There are very limited reasons as to why a person can’t come down to Civic Center Park and protest. It’s not hard to go out and find an Uber, and participate in a movement or issue that a person believes in. People have just gotten lazier.

No matter what beliefs and values a person has, there are ways to have their voice heard. It’s up to Millennials to make change and build a society where people all feel included, safe, and heard. Please, the next time a political post pops up on Facebook, instead of liking a post about the Women’s March,   strive to get out there and march with fellow protesters.

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