Click and Forget
Posted on May 14, 2012
A new form of activism threatens to leave politics and advocacy devoid of accountability
A recent article in the Huffington Post discussed the growing trend of Slactivism, a term used by the author, Mr. Bob McKinnon, to describe the way in which individuals support an idea or an issue using minimal effort. In today’s world, all one needs to do is click “Like” or “retweet” to express their approval .
A current example of Slactivism is the frenzy surrounding the KONY 2012 film. Despite various reported inaccuracies and exaggerations, millions of people expressed outrage over the perceived injustice via mediums such as Twitter and Facebook. Since little effort was required to show support for the cause, it’s no wonder that the issue itself was presented in an incomplete and even inaccurate manner. In today’s world, it appears that any publicity, positive or negative, is good publicity. This is a sharp contrast to the gung ho, hit the ground running-attitude of activists from generations past.
This type of activism in no way diminishes the validity of one’s opinion. Nevertheless, an American public that devotes considerable time and energy to a cause by taking real action would necessitate more accountability in the political sphere as a whole, an arena in which any publicity, positive or negative, is often viewed as good publicity. Nowhere is this brand of negative publicity more visible than on the campaign trail to the White House. The GOP nomination was fueled by critique, finger pointing and pessimism. Campaign ads for both Presidential candidates have begun to air in the recent weeks, and they too have been wrought with unconstructive bashing. Rather than support their own opinions and suggested policies with sound research and conviction, the candidates have a propensity to spend the majority of their time bad mouthing their opponents and questioning their past policies.
Negative campaign strategies are nothing new; mudslinging has been a political tactic for much of history. However, when combined with the “click and forget” attitude fueled by today’s social media platforms, these tactics, and the inaccuracies that often accompany them become less accountable and more effective. Accusations, missteps on the campaign trail and other damaging material can be spread throughout the media and the American public with the click of a mouse. In fact, the real power in today’s political arena stems not from the power of positive thinking, but from the ability to uncover the negative and distribute it en masse. I am not comfortable with a world driven by negative publicity. Those in the public affairs industry are in a unique position to determine the substance and tone surrounding certain issues. I believe that it is important to keep our faith in the power of positive thinking and to recognize that, regardless of Slactivists and mudslinging politicians, our industry will benefit from constructive, accurate and positive advocacy.
by Alex Mitchell, 2012 Spring Intern Class