Slacktivism: Click here to feel better

Yesterday I noticed a friend on Facebook had become a member of this Facebook group. Titled, For each member who joins, we will donate $0.50 to Haiti earthquake victims, the Group’s founder, Joseph Christopher Samuel, claims to have found 50 companies…

from Europe and Asian Pacific. They have agreed to donate $0.50 for each member who joins this group to Haiti earthquake victims. Let’s make them donate more to those who are in need, invite your friends now !!

The companies aren’t named and Joseph appears to be a teen from Singapore.

Beer Drinking Cats Against Cancer - Join The Fight Now!

As of the time of writing, the Group has so far gathered 36,748 members, many of whom are keen to find as many others to join as possible. Will Ayers writes…

Great work here with this group, this is a terrible tradgedy and we all have to do our part to help out those in need

Bronte Paris Kent appears to agree, having been shocked by TV coverage into joining

I saw a poor video of a suffering 13 yr old boy, with a massive gash all the way down his leg and on his foot, he was crying, screaming,begging for help. We Can Do Something Guys Come On!

(Mark Kirby, perhaps confusingly, “Likes” this…)

Rizwan Aslam exhorts the world to follow his example…

EVERYONE JOIN THIS GROUP !!!!

Jeffery Babu has leapt on board and he seems to feel better for it…

It feels good to give!

However, there appears to be a growing number of dissenters who seem to have joined merely to heckle its well-meaning membership. Here’s Karine, for example…

this is a scam. if you really want to help, donate the money yourselves you lazy people

Jordan Telford is even more damning in his criticism…

ARE YOU PEOPLE IDIOTS? I KNOW YOUR TRYING TO SUPPORT A GROUP THAT HAS GOOD CAUSE.

BUT THIS GROUP IS FAKE.

LOOK AT THE OWNER. HES A TEENAGER. A PATHETIC ONE AT THAT.

WHAT KIND OF PERSON WOULD MOCK THIS HORRIBLE SITUATION?

LEAVE THIS GROUP

MAYBE EVEN SEND A LITTLE HATE MAIL TO THIS HORRIBLE PERSON

Nic Humphrey has taken a calm, composed approach…

If this is a scam to get members…then you SHOULD die!!! I’m being completely calm an honest, I’m not over exaggerating. If this isn’t legit and truthful, YOU SHOULD DIE!!!

Renee Meynell follows Nic by saying…

if this is fake i hope you get very very badly injured in an earthquake. then i hope you dont live where i do otherwise i’ll die. but if its real, i love you.

Nic, slightly concerned that Renee’s wishes could harm others, instead proposes…

i hope thers no earthquakes taht could badly injure anyoone…just a piano should fall atop this persons head and make them a vegatable

Very sensible suggestion Nic, thanks.

Beware ye, the wrath of Nic Humphrey

Obviously the Group appears to be an attempt to create an enormous Group on Facebook rather than a genuine charity money maker and, let’s face it, it appears to be working. But, given it detracts and distracts folk from participating in acts that may actually make a difference, is this rise of Slacktivism something to be concerned about?

Slacktivism, a term to describe “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction, is on the rise. Small wonder too, what with the growing popularity of social networking and the media’s continual references to it as some sort of cultural barometer. But where is this increased focus on online activism going to lead us?

Evgeny Morosov has an interesting post today here at foreignpolicy.com. Morosov addresses issues of political activism and whether an increased reliance on web-based protest would mean traditional methods (demonstrations, sit-ins, strategic litigation etc) are likely to suffer…

The real issue here is whether the mere availability of the “slacktivist” option is likely to push those who in the past might have confronted the regime in person with demonstrations, leaflets, and labor organizing to embrace the Facebook option and join a gazillion online issue groups instead. If this is the case, then the much-touted tools of digital liberation are only driving us further away from the goal of democratization and building global civil society.

Given the rapidly changing cultural environment surrounding social networking it seems hard to predict the future. It seems easy enough to point the finger at the “50 cent Group” (as I have dubbed them) and shake ones head in dismay but does this mean the forces behind slacktivism will inevitably have no use or impact? Morosov suggests possibly not…

Of course, the ideal case here is when one’s participation in digital activism doesn’t subtract from — and instead enhances — one’s eagerness to participate in real-life campaigns.

I wonder…

What I am sure of is that Haitian Earthquake victims are unlikely to receive succour from Joseph Christopher Samuel’s Facebook Group.

If they, or anyone else, really want to help they should be donating to an established and well run charity. A list of recommended charities and advice on how to source an efficient charity, rather than one burdened by large overheads, can be found at the U.S. based Charity Navigator. Presumably you can also find links that will allow you to donate your cash without leaving your sofa.

Bonus.


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11 Responses

  1. i like the part where Bronte Paris Kent said ” We Can Do Something Guys Come On!” Maybe you should of asked me about it before suggesting to the world that i got off on a video of a suffering 13 yr old boy screaming and begging for help

    • I wasn’t implying you found it fun Mark. Anyone who uses Facebook would realise you had pressed the rather one dimensional “Like” button meaning you agreed with her sentiment. (I did notice I had written LIKE rather than put it in quotes so I’ve changed it in order to make the meaning more clear though)
      My point here was social networking can often simplify exchanges like that to a degree that can rob them of context.
      I’m not being particularly critical of the members of the group either (apart from an implied criticism of its founder)… they clearly are hoping their actions may help people.
      What I do think is important is that we reflect on what kind of activism we are engaging in and ensuring it will have the desired results…

  2. Cool, i gathered u meant no harm you’re obviously a sensible person you make very good points but i just needed to defend myself before it got blown out of proportion… look at Josephs page for example 🙂
    And about the page in question i think he needs to re-word it to “RAISING AWARENESS” or something along those lines before that gets blown right out of proportion. Its gained approx. 30,000 members in the last 24 hours and thats a real rough guess, it could be more!!! But the more members it gets, the more attention it gets and if this Joseph kid doesn’t act quick he could end up on the 6 o’clock news!!!

    • I’m not entirely convinced that “Raising Awareness” is of any use.
      Anyone who isn’t aware that there was an earthquake in Haiti is probably of no great use to the people who live there.
      Oh… and here’s a pointer for the future. Any cause that wants you to spend your money supporting it so they can “raise awareness” of something is probably not worth it.
      How many people ask others to give them money so they can, for example, “Kayak the length of the Amazon” so they can raise awareness about the loss of the rainforests. What they are really saying is… “I want a really expensive holiday and I want people to pay for it. And I’ll put stickers on my canoe and everything”.

  3. I can see it now, “MAN GIVES HAITI VICTIMS FALSE HOPE”
    thats how cruel editors can be and thats probably close to how they need to word it if they want they’re story to sell

  4. But if the page can be used, as a lot of people are hijacking it for, to help people find links to donate, surely thats a good thing?

    Thats what people should do!

    • I’m opposed to donating at all, I have worked for so called charity’s in the past, and about 10% of what you donate actually gets there, the rest is consumed to pay the people who collect the $$ and in administration costs, as well as the banks getting their slice. Remember, most developed countries governments will be donating millions to help rebuil;d this country, which in essence is your tax dollars! even the UN is spending your money, All countries give the UN a % of every countries gross national profit ( i know this as i have worked for the UN a few years back), and as such, again, this is your tax dollars. so before you feel obligated to donate to these crisis in the world, remember you have already, just without realising it.

      if you still feel like you should help out, maybe you shouls turn your attention to all the seniors, people with disabilities and the less fortunate in your local area/suburb, i’m sure they would appreciate a little assistance from you, as our governments seem to be avoiding their issues, but have no problem sending millions of dollars abroad to countries and strangers we dont know!

      • I agree that the sort of running costs associated with charities seem utterly ludicrous. Given the amount of charities in operation they are forced to compete against each other for funding, leading them to invest more and more of their money in running costs and promotional material.
        This is why I provided the link to Charity Navigator. It not only breaks down charity budgets so you can see where your money is going but also provides other information, like CEO salaries etc…
        There are charities worth supporting. And if you think your government is treating your tax money as a charitable donation then perhaps you to look at the purposes of international aid at a slightly different angle.
        Governments provide aid to a number of countries but their purpose is not merely charitable. Providing aid also enable them to influence the donor country politically. Your government would probably claim this was done for the benefit of its taxpayers… i.e. you

  5. Hey, about a donation for using my falling Piano image?

    John

  6. please remove my full name from this.. thank you.

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