Armchair Activism: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Your Internet Politics

Armchair Activism: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Your Internet Politics

Ready to get off Facebook and start engaging real change?
1020
views

The recent rise in social media posts about politics and social justice, widely known as “internet activism” or “clicktivism,” has paved the way for new methods to respond to and engage political action on the individual, grassroots, local, federal, and even international level.

Internet activism has inevitably spread awareness of social issues such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and more, as well as changed social landscapes of global accessibility to social justice and activism, even going as far as social media campaign spillover to political and public policy legislative action. While the impact of internet activism is certainly undeniable, there is a dark side of internet politics that often goes undiscussed.

As social justice and political rhetoric on the internet become increasingly prominent in activist fields, discussions have shifted to criticism of the effectiveness of internet activism. Emerging criticisms of academics and activists alike have centered the ability of internet activism to actually achieve grassroots change. Many critics and social-media skeptics worry that internet activism is creating a new-wave of individuals who posit themselves as activists for posting on social media about politics and social change, when they are not actually creating any political or social outcomes. This is called armchair activism.

Armchair activism, or “slacktivism,” as it is also known, is a dangerous form of media politics. Often times, armchair activists believe that posting about Black Lives Matter or reproductive rights on Facebook creates change in of itself. This is problematic, because the poster often feels as though they have created a change, or contributed meaningfully to a social movement. And while, in a vacuum, this is not necessarily untrue, the individual in question feels as though this obfuscates them of actual, physical activism.

This belief that social media activism by itself creates a real, physical change, is a slippery slope. Take the Black Lives Matter movement, for example. The media campaign of BLM has clearly had a huge impact on spreading awareness and gathering support and allies for the movement. BLM’s internet presence has undoubtedly created at least some change. But, the real and most meaningful change BLM has made is in physical activist spaces; rallies, protests, etc. This is a key distinction. While posting about BLM clearly spreads knowledge about the movement, white people expressing solidarity on Facebook should never be conflated with the actual change achieved by PoC positing their livelihoods and fighting on the front lines of the movement for racial justice.

This is important: you posting that you, as a student of a given University “stand in solidarity” with black students at Missou or Ithica does not efface the same change as the students physically protesting and creating activist spaces at those institutions.

Posting and discussing politics and social issues on social media has become a cornerstone of free speech and democracy. And while it would be incorrect to say that internet activism does not preclude real change, it is only part of the puzzle. Activism and social justice is not a stasis point or an end point. It is a continually evolving politics of change. It requires precision, openness, checking of privilege and social location, and creating and opening spaces for minority voices to share their narratives. Internet activism does not have to be armchair activism. In fact, internet activism is a great way to raise awareness, organize individuals, and even efface policy change through tactics that influence and shift public perceptions of social issues.

But internet activism needs to be used as a tool for mobilization, rather than a means to an end. Internet activism should be used as a starting place for other forms of activism and discussions. In order for internet activism to be effective, or hold any revolutionary potential, it must be seen as a contingency in the ever-growing history book of social justice, and not just the period at the end of a sentence. So continue to post, continue to share, and continue to diffuse your ideas. But also go out and help; join a rally or a protest, organize your friends or community, donate $10 to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU.

The root of social change stems from education and knowledge. In the interest of further educating individuals on this perspective, here’s some suggest articles from the Atlantic and the Guardian that do a good job of explain and elaborating on the politics of armchair activism.

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/11/bridget-christie- armchair-activist

The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/unicef-tells- slacktivists-give-money-not- facebook-likes/275429/

Popular Right Now

To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
36882
views

To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

161
views

This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

Related Content

Facebook Comments