Activists are important facets in pushing back against oppression and questioning power structures. Activists raise awareness for social injustices. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist. bell hooks is an activist. President Obama was an activist when he was organizing in Chicago. But the rise of online petitions and Twitter activism has replaced marches and strides toward progressive legislation.
Social networking can be a powerful tool in activism, but using Twitter, Facebook and Change is not adequate engagement in social movements. Easier access has inspired a generation of armchair activists who are content with posting links, creating faux outrage and then letting the issue die once the media coverage stops.
Armchair activism encourages complacency, but most of us, me included, fall into the trap. The Harvard Crimson sums up the detriment best, “Effective activism that creates lasting change takes effort and is often very frustrating. In fact, if an action is shiny, prepackaged, easy, and does not require any research or other sort of effort on the doer’s part, that is probably a sign that it is not going to be highly effective. If we hope to make a difference, it is essential that we are critical of such representations.”
Are you an armchair activist?