Slacktivism vs. Activism

Courtesy Photo.

By LIBBY GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:

Online petitions, or e-petitions, are commonly viewed with skepticism. Individuals often question whether or not e-petitions are capable of generating any real change, or if they are more “slacktivism” than activism.

Change.org, the world’s largest site for signing and creating online petitions, has more than 45 million users and roughly 25 thousand campaigns posted monthly, according to damemagazine.com.

“Greater networking produces grand efficiency and connections among a more diverse population,” Steve Garcia, a nursing major, said.

Clearly, signing your name is not direct action that generates immediate change, but it is undeniable that e-petitions can expand awareness and support for a cause at lightning speed with the internet as such a driving force today, according to Change.org.

The argument against the effectiveness of e-petitions is that e-petitions are simply a lazy way to feel like one is making a change.

Students acknowledge that e-petitions can be the easy and lazy way out. “My opinion is that yes, most of the time they are used by people who are too lazy to actually go out and seek change,”  Taylor Libby, a nursing major, said. “So they go the easy way out and ask people to sign petitions instead of making a change themselves.”

Other students believe strongly in e-petitions and say that they are a great forum to enact change.

“Online petitions are a simple way to add your voice to a much bigger conversation,” John Rizzcallah, a math major, said. “Like voting, it is our civic duty to make our voices heard by those with the power to affect change.”

Although some students view e-petitions as taking an inactive role in generating change, others see true value in it.

Slacktivism or activism, e-petitions undoubtedly spread awareness of a cause and create a sense of urgency and unity in igniting a change.

Whether or not students personally believe that e-petitions are capable of accomplishing change, some online petitions have met their goals.

The recent passage of legislation that provides protection to sexual assault survivors actually started with an online petition and a single signature.

According to Change.org, the first ever Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, championed by Amanda Nguyen and her organization, Rise, spread quickly and ended up with 140,732 signatures.

This success undeniably demonstrates that online petitions are capable of accomplishing change by expanding awareness one signature at a time.

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