Rapid advancements in technology, and the new age phenomenon of produsage have resulted in the youth culture engaging with political, social and cultural issues online. Generation Y have found their outlet for expressing their opinions, and forming large scale activist groups protesting or raising awareness for current issues. This outlet is social media.
“The digital age has opened a new era of activism that offers the next generation new avenues into broader political participation… however, the online community needs to be better educated in the critical thinking and media skills needed to fully defend their causes” – Henry Jenkins
Source (Nick Statt 2013)
Slacktivism has evolved from younger generations feeling as though they have contributed to current issues by either, ‘liking’ a photo on marriage equality on Facebook, or retweeting to stop the Great Barrier Reef dredging. These minute ‘feel-good’ measures create a sense of contribution to political issues with minimal effort.
A clear, recent example of slacktivism gone viral is the ‘no make-up selfie’ for breast cancer awareness. The purpose of these ‘selfies’ were to donate X amount of dollars per like, or share of your ‘selfie’. However, new age slacktivists used these photos as a self-indulgent ego boost, rather than to donate profits for breast cancer research.
Source (Amy Lewis, Jenny McFarlance 2014)
Many breast cancer sufferers and survivors are livid, and do not believe these ‘selfies’ are helping research, unless donations are provided. Breast cancer survivor Kim Stephens speaks out of her outrage, “If someone had shown me their no make-up selfie when I was in the midst of chemotherapy… I would have mustered what little strength I had to beat them with my drip stand.”
However, those who had donated their earnings, according to Cancer Research UK, had raised £8m in six days. Could you imagine if every person who posted a #nomakeupselfie had donated their profits to cancer research? A cure for cancer would be definitely on it’s way.