Are You a Slacktivist?

Credits: LaMenta3 on flickr
So you say you’re “helping out the less fortunate," huh? Or maybe the thousands of people suffering from that disease you read about on your friend’s status update? You probably contributed to an “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” video these past few months, but do you even know what ALS is? Have you made a difference in your community lately? Or did you just post on Facebook about the problems in your community?
Activism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue." Simply, an activist is someone who directly impacts someone or something according to their beliefs. In today’s society, this does not seem to ring true. Many people rely on their online profiles to seem productive in their reform efforts. Their “retweets” and “status updates” are just words on a screen for hundreds of others to read. The definition reads a “direct vigorous action” must be taken in order for it to be considered true activism. A short one hundred and forty character statement is not something a true activist would stand by. A direct action is far more substantial than the posts on social media websites.
Take “Kony 2012” for example. In March of 2012, the Invisible Children, Inc. released a video exposing the military and criminal efforts made by fugitive Joseph Kony in Africa. The purpose of this video was to make the public aware of what was happening and propose a plan to stop it. This 29 minute long video went viral. Millions across the nation watched and posted about what they were watching. But what was actually done about this issue? Not even close to what should’ve been done. Of the millions of people that saw or read about this campaign, the majority of them had only donated money to the Invisible Children, Inc.  The goal of this entire campaign was to stop Joseph Kony and according to, Invisible Children pocketed most of the money that was donated. Therefore, Joseph Kony, to this day, was never captured.
That is the problem with social media today. These screens are ways for people to hide behind an online profile and lazily participate in the problems within society. “Slacktivism” is what people are calling it, and is what these minimal efforts should be referred to as. It is up to you to take the next step in becoming an activist, instead of a slacktivist.

An urban dictionary user defines Slacktivism as “the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem." One of the most relatable examples of a slacktivism is signing an online petition. Many petitions that I come across are for the legalization of gay marriage. Instead of stating you support gay marriage, get in your car, get out and walk a 5k for the cause. Take action and become a part of your community. There are many more ways to make an effective difference than hiding behind a screen or phone.
Take a look back on Martin Luther King Jr. Starting in the mid-1950s, King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. By preaching, marching, writing, and acting upon his words, Martin Luther King Jr made arguably one of the biggest impacts our nation has ever seen. Since the development of technology and mobile devices, Americans have embraced a lazy characteristic resulting in the “slacktivist” way of approaching an issue.
A common theme in activist efforts today is spreading awareness. There’s this idea that giving the public some knowledge on a controversial issue will be enough to fix the problems in society. There are more steps than just spreading awareness. For example, do not just share a story of a homeless man on the streets on New York. Instead, look into volunteering for a homeless shelter or food bank to give these less-fortunate people the attention and essential goods that they deserve. Just because you let your community know that there are homeless people out there does not mean that you are directly helping them. Spreading awareness is not the activist way to approach an issue, even if it is the first step.
If you’re interested in changing your slacktivist ways, start a club in school, go out into the community and participate as a volunteer, lobby for a cause, write letters to your congressmen and women, be active. Actions do speak louder than words. So test yourself, get out there, and make a difference.

Emily Hecht is a junior at Westfield High School.

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

WFP Tax Partners Walks You Through 4 Step Tax Return Process

February 22, 2018

Over 80% of Tax Returns Have Errors or Missed Deductions. You're Probably Paying More Than Your Fair Share in Taxes

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Tax returns certainly give a clear picture of the past year, but WFP Tax Partners believes it's wise to strategize for the current year to have a plan for moving forward. 

At your tax appointment, they ...

Reminder: Free Wellness Program for Union County Military Women

All Union County women with military service – veterans, active duty and reserve – are invited to join “Boots 2 Heels,” a free event designed to foster wellness and connect women with resources and guidance for empowerment. Boots 2 Heels will be held on Saturday, February 24 at the Westfield Armory, located at 500 Rahway Avenue in Westfield.

The event is free but ...

CSA's 5th Annual Pasta Dinner Fundraiser Set for Sunday

Is everyone ready to come together as a community and break bread to support the CSA? It's time for The Community Service Association of New Providence's 5th Annual Pasta & Meatball Dinner! This fun, family-friendly event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the DeCorso Community Center, 15 East Fourth Street, New Providence. Pasta, meatballs, and dessert will be served from 3-7 ...

Caregiver Conference Sunday, Feb. 25, Focuses on Caregiver's Needs


Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, (JFSCNJ) a non-sectarian health and social service agency, will be hosting a Caregiver Conference called, “Caring for a Loved One While Being Mindful of Your Own Needs,” from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, Halpern Building, 655 Westfield Ave. Elizabeth.  

 The Conference, ...

Colleen Mahr Has Paid Her Dues, Earned Peoples’ Trust, and Left a Track Record of Success

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Democratic Party Would Be Making a Big Mistake by Not Recognizing Colleen Mahr's Talents

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a valuable friend to the Township of Cranford. Whether it’s offering advice and assistance during devastating flood cleanup, supporting the Mayor's Council on the Rahway River, or her insight and assistance in meeting our affordable housing obligations, Mayor Mahr is always there for Cranford.

Colleen’s fairness and integrity is ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22, 6:00 PM

UCEDC, Cranford

Next Level Business Planning

Business & Finance

Fri, February 23

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green


Fri, February 23, 6:30 PM

Union County Vocational Technical Schools, West Hall Cafeteria, Scotch Plains

Union County Magnet High School Silent Auction

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sat, February 24

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Municipal Court Room/Council Chambers, BERKELEY HEIGHTS

Return Berkeley Heights Public Library's Books, ...


I've Always Wanted to be a Doctor...Or an English Teacher

Think about the impossibility of the task we lay in front of high school students.  In addition to getting good grades, filling up a resume, finding the right colleges and writing countless admissions essays they also need to decide on their life’s passion at 17 years old...or do they?

As a college admissions representative the first question most students would ask me was whether ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...