Sunday, December 12, 2010

Daddy on the Edge of "Slacktivism"

Not plane, nor bird, nor even frog,
It's just little old me...UnderDog.

A few weeks ago, everyone on FaceBook was urged to change their profile pictures to cartoon characters. This was somehow going to fight child abuse.

Shortly after I gave in to peer pressure and changed my pic to Sweet Polly Purebread's main squeeze, a new FaceBook thang started circulating telling us that we had been duped, and that this seemingly innocent posting of animated childhood memories was instead a ploy of pedophiles so that children on FaceBook would accept their friend requests.

Turns out that neither story was
exactly true, which I had kind of assumed. I'm not going to get into that - you can read it yourself on if you want the whole history. What I found much more interesting was, in their discussing of this FaceBook hoopla, they brought up some bit of 21st century Newspeak that I was not privvy to -


They referred to slacktivism as "the idea that one can participate in effecting meaningful societal change by doing nothing."

Here's an expanded definition, also from;


We can't claim credit for having coined this term, nor do we know its actual origin, but we love it nonetheless. Slacktivism is the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society's rescue without actually getting one's hands dirty, volunteering any of one's time, or opening one's wallet. It's slacktivism that prompts us to forward appeals for business cards on behalf of a dying child intent upon having his name recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records or exhortations to others to continue circulating a particular e-mail because some big company has supposedly promised that every forward will generate monies for the care of a languishing tot. Likewise, it's slacktivism that prompts us to want to join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its defining characteristic is its central theme of doing good with little or no effort on the part of the person inspired to participate, through the mechanisms of forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing.

Why do we do it? 'Cause it feels good...and it's easy.'s masturbation. But in the end, like masturbation, it really only serves to make that one person feel good, and it certainly doesn't effect lasting societal change (well,
your masturbation might - far be it for me to assume to know the potential awesomeness of your personal orgasms, but I know mine aren't doing anything to benefit UNICEF.)

It's easy to click "Like" - too easy, so Daddy has decided not to do that anymore. I have a friend who goes to an animal shelter to play with the dogs - I think that's awesome. Sure, he had to leave FaceBook to do it, but he has fun, the dogs have fun and I would bet money that playing with lonely pups is more satisfying than
"clicking Like if you think Michael Vick's pitbulls should get a vacation in Cancun!"

Personally, Daddy buys hats. Not being a major sports fan, I don't feel the need to have any team logo splattered across my forehead. Instead, I look for causes I can get behind and I buy their hats. Anyone who's known me for the past few years will recognize this cap to the right. This is part of how I contribute to the Make It Right Foundation, which has been building new, energy efficient, flood resistant houses in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward. Lucky for them, I beat the heck out of my hats, so I always need more.

Here's what my hats built;

This is just a small sampling of the homes that have been constructed. These homes weren't built with a click of the mouse; they were built with action; they were built with contribution - and, in my case, they were built...with a hat. If you'd like to help the good work of the Make It Right Foundation, please click on the link to the right. Check out their merchandise and maybe buy yourself something pretty. And hey, if you can't find anything you like for yourself, you could always get Daddy a present. Tis the season, after all. :)

I leave you with a final quote from Snopes. This is how the writer summed up the cartoon character story, and Daddy couldn't have said it better hisself.

"Real problems don't disappear as a consequence of acts of slacktivism; they're fought through the mechanism of donation of time and/or money. The character one needs display to the world is not that of a cartoon, but of a benefactor."

~Barbara "character reference" Mikkelson

Go buy me a hat,


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