Sunday, April 24, 2005

Stamp out slacktivism - sign this online petition!

The UK's Times coined an interesting phrase last week - 'slacktivism,' or (from the article), "the counter-intuitive idea that you can somehow change the world and topple its complacent political classes without even rising from your chair." Liberals, of course, are long familiar with slacktivism already; think of the dozen online petitions you receive from your well-meaning friends on a weekly basis, urging you to sign and to help release this third-world prisoner, and to protest that right-wing leader, and to support the erasing of debt of that other emerging nation.

Let's face the ugly facts - it was slacktivism that was directly responsible for Howard Dean losing the nomination during the 2004 presidential campaign, and slacktivism that directly led to Bush getting re-elected later that same year. Getting press and publicity are fine things, and definitely should be used during any activist campaign; but when an issue is ultimately decided by people pulling a lever in a polling booth, unfortunately you have to actually get people to the polling booth to make a difference. Many of us were shocked in early 2004, when Dean's supposedly insurmountable lead in the Democratic race suddenly dissolved like a paper kite in a rainstorm, when it came time for the first actual primary out in New Hampshire; once many of us learned the cause (that the thousands of young people out there screaming on the internet for Dean didn't bother to actually vote), it was the start of the long, depressing farce known as the 2004 Presidential Election. A little advice for all those would-be slacktivists out there, who actually are interested in making a difference - put down that online petition, shut your screaming mouth, get off your ass and actually do something. Republicans, censors and anti-choice nuts seem to understand this lesson just fine; why can't you? (Thanks to "The Artful Manager" for pointing this out.)