Monday, July 19, 2010

Don't be a Slactivitst

The Punk Patriot is a cute little fellow up in Maine who had an idea about 70 days ago, when the gusher was still gushing, instead of leaking and seeping from the cracks and fissures: Revoke BP's corporate charter. Essentially, revoking the corporate charter would be like a death penalty for the corporation. The only business BP could conduct in America would be to make restitution for the mess they made.

He made a facebook page. Apparently, lots of people have joined the page, but haven't even clicked on the link to an easy-peasy petition at Green Change. He must be getting frustrated. Here's a recent FB status:

Don't be a slackivist! http://bit.ly/revokeBP

And from this morning:

Att Gen Beau Biden doesn't check this FB group. He does check his email though. Tell him to revoke BP's charter: http://bit.ly/revokeBP

In this video he posted on his blog today, The Punk Patriot discusses the idea of Citizen Reform. We all agree we need Campaign Finance Reform, Health Care Reform, etc etc etc - what we really need is Citizen Reform because We The People who have fallen asleep at the wheel.



I started having issues with Facebook activism some time ago when all the women were posting the colors of their bras as a status report in order to raise awareness about breast cancer. I did it myself. It was diverting for an afternoon - but did it raise awareness? Unlikely. Did it raise money? Even more unlikely.

I had similar issues with the outpouring of financial support to Haiti right after the earthquake. It seemed totally wrong to me that anyone watching MTV could text ten bucks to Haiti. Certainly the earthquake in Haiti was (is) such a big problem that it necessitated a global response - but there are hundreds of situations that deserve a massive response who go neglected every day because it's too much trouble to write a check - much less actually become involved in a solution. I wish they all had special numbers to text ten bucks.

It's troubling when the only action people will actually take is to click a "like" button on Facebook. I wonder why the hesitate to take the next steps. Is Revoking BP's Charter, in particular, something they don't really support, or is this a pervasive tendency - so that people "like" miscellaneous causes and concepts but that's as far as they are willing to go? Certainly one of these marketing outfits who is studying social media has already done this research.

In any case, I sign petitions and send a few bucks here and there. I've even picked up the phone and called Charlie Rangel and Chuck Schumer. Hopefully that's enough to prevent me from being labeled a Slactivist since interacting with real people often gives me the heebie jeebies.

7 comments:

MRMacrum said...

It's the same shit on the Right. Different excuses, same result.

And yeah, I like him also.

BTW - I just went to a town meeting a couple of weeks ago. But in all honesty, I have my bag of excuses also. They are way easy to pull out than to actually get involved.

PENolan said...

I wouldn't go to a town meeting if you paid me - especially not in Texas. All that anger makes me nauseous. I can't stand to go to the annual meeting of my homeowners association.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

We were talking about this last night at a campaign meeting. I'm helping out on two campaigns this season. We discussed the limited pool of volunteers and what makes some people get off their butts and actually do something, as opposed to those who will "get active" on-line and donate or forward form letter complaints to their Congressmen, but not do anything else.

Some people think that's enough. It seems the people who are directly impacted by a problem, or who are closer to government and see the mess it's in, are the ones most likely to get up and do something. We need to bridge that gap. We need to make the slactivists more aware, and motivate them to get up and move.

One of the problems we have here, as the rest of the country also likely has, is teenage and young adult unemployment. We have kids coming out of college with no job prospects. They don't know what to do if someone doesn't give them a job.

We discussed entrepreneurism, starting community-based banks and contacting government agencies to give education, training and seed money for some of these young people to start their own businesses, thereby giving themselves a job.

We also discussed the fact that the problems we have are of our own making, too long sitting back, not paying attention and trusting someone else was being diligent. Also, the solution will not come from outside. If we want help, we have to figure out a way to help ourselves. We'll see how all this goes.

Liberality said...

Oh, I have my excuses too. Shame on me. I send my money to the ACLU and Amnesty International. I also campaign, make those phone calls, and sign petitions but I could do much more. I don't like FB but everybody already knows that ;~)

Mark said...

Interesting. It is easy to sit back and do nothing, it is easy to complain. To choose to take action that has impact that takes courage and motivation. I believe the key is that we must first believe our effort no matter how small or large is making an impact.

Jennifer said...

I have had similar frustrations with facebook and I have pretty much given up on it as a feasible forum for trying to get people to think. Or act. Maybe that makes me sound complacent (though I do contribute to my causes and write to politicians, both of which seem to me more, I don't know, constructive (?) than joining a group on facebook). I used to write to newspapers but the last one I wrote got hacked up by an editor so as to make it incomprehensive, and they've outlived their viability in the information age anyway.

But there are other news and information sources. And that brings us back to facebook. I just have trouble meshing the idea of "news" and "information" with farm games and fake bouquets and fake hugs and "I like Oprah."

I hid from view an old friend of mine who constantly, (I mean 10-15 times a day) posts conspiracy theory videos from youtube and links to wacky angry bloggers who deface picturs of your president while accusing him of poisoning you through airplane trails in the sky...

I mean sure, one could make a case for trying to keep the teenagers and young people informed by way of this most popular social tool - but it's a SOCIAL tool. Most people forwarding their views on facebook are just developing an online persona. "Like" helps to do this in a split second.

Anyway, Mark up there is right. And Noam Chomsky has said it too: Every action has meaning, every action makes a change in some small way. If we all stayed atuned to that we might act more often. Clicking "Like" or even joining a facebook group is not, to me, an action.

tnlib said...

FB is nothing but a social wasteland. The only reason I get on it is to know what my daughters are doing - they're too busy for emailing. I used to have a lot of blogging buddies on there but I felt it was a waste of time - most of my family have political leanings diametrically opposed to mine or they play those stupid games. Usually the two groups go together.

I get all kinds of petitions in my email and most of them I take the time to sign and sometimes even write my own thoughts. Never contribute money. Afterall, I'm on Social Security.

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