By KRISTEN GOLEMBIEWSKI, Opinions Editor
In the past, I made the mistake of signing some online petitions. In all honesty, it wasn’t really my fault. You should see the way they word some of them. The way they pressure you into feeling like if you don’t sign this petition to save these seal pups from certain clubbing, then it’s your fault when they inevitably get clubbed! It’s worse than that Sarah McLachlan commercial – you know the one.
And so now that I signed various petitions once upon a time, they’ve got me. My inbox is flooded with requests that I sign this to save that. Sometimes, these organizations get bold and request funds from me. I’m made to feel as if the success of these campaigns rely solely on me and my involvement. If I don’t do anything, nothing’s going to change! It’s exhausting. A person doesn’t need all of that pressure.
But what’s worse than the pressure is the sense of satisfaction some people get from clicking the “sign the petition NOW” button. You know these people. They’ll lecture you all damn day about why you should’ve recycled that one piece of paper you accidentally threw out because paper comes from trees and most of America is going through deforestation and don’t you want to make a difference?
But when it comes to actually doing something – like planting trees to combat the deforestation they’re supposedly passionate about – they don’t have the time.
At the end of the day, what really makes a difference is taking an active role and doing something. Slacktivism, a portmanteau that Urban Dictionary aptly defines as “the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem,” helps no one. So you signed a petition. Great! Did it actually help anyone?
It could be that I’m holding all of these people to an unfair standard. Growing up, my best friend’s mom was (and still is) incredibly involved in the issues she’s passionate about. She has marched and protested. She’s fasted. She’s been arrested. She’s involved with numerous groups. She’s traveled around the world and across the country to promote her ideas, often taking her students with her.
I recognize that she’s certainly not the norm. But I have to ask – if she can do all of this and raise four kids and hold down a full-time teaching job – why can’t someone concerned with an issue take a little time out of their weekend to make a difference?
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not recognize that not everyone has a ton of time to devote to a cause. They might also not have any extra funds to donate to a charity of their choice. I’m a college student, so I definitely understand being stretched thin on time and finances.
But then again, I’m not parading around like I’m saving the world because I signed an internet petition or that because I wear TOMS I’m saving the life of some little kid in Africa. I’m aware that my actions, no matter how good their intentions, aren’t actually helping anyone.
And so to you, slacktivists of the world, I encourage you to take a good, hard look at yourself. Think about what you’re doing. Ask yourself, “Are my actions actually doing anything for anyone? Or am I just doing this to soothe my conscience and reassure myself that I’m a good person?”. More likely than not, I think you’ll find that your actions are selfish. That you’re doing this for yourself, not for the endangered bird species you’re petitioning to save.
By all means, continue to share your outrage on your Facebook and Twitter. I’m all for an informed America.
Just don’t get a complex about it. After all, you’re not saving the world.