I just donated $20 to This American Life. A plea for cash came across my Facebook groups update list asking members to support the show’s free podcast. Apparently it costs $150,000 just to accommodate the bandwidth. So I plunked down my credit card and forked over the money.
As the Joy Trip Project struggles to meet its own fundraising goals I’d frankly feel like a hypocrite if I didn’t pony up to support those with similar objectives. Supporting TAL is a no-brainer because at some point I’d love nothing more than to contribute a story. Hopefully that particular bridge hasn’t been burned. I met Ira Glass as the Sundance Film Festival three years ago and made the mistake of telling him that his groundbreaking radio show has no business on television.
But I digress. Personally I’m a member of about 50 different “Causes” or “Groups” on Facebook. This is perhaps the only financial contribution I have ever made. I’ve never attended a fundraising event or a volunteer workday. But I’ve taken no small measure of pride for suggesting to my friends that they should join the groups I “support.”
Even though it’s never been easier to connect with people and their causes, I suspect that very little real engagement is actually happening. The coffers are still short of the full mark and trail maintenance work parties are poorly attended. I for one have been pretty slack in my real world support of those activists who are working toward the change we all say we want.
Slactivism was the subject of an essay by Youth Radio producer Nico Savage last year on the now defunct Public Radio show Day-To-Day. He suggested that Facebook “Groups” and “Causes” do very little move forward an agenda of change and actually encourage a new form of apathy and falsely convinces people that they’re actually accomplishing something.
If more people had truly supported Day-To-Day with financial contributions or even letters appreciation for its daily dose of quality journalism, it might still be on the air today and its host Alex Chadwick wouldn’t have to sell his interviews on street corners for 50 cents.
Are you a Slactivist? You are if you haven’t taken some action to move a cause you care about forward. If you’re not, I welcome you to share your story on how you give of your time or money to make the world a better place. I’m making a list of suggestions on how to become better engaged in charitable giving. I’d appreciate your gift of an idea. Post your comments or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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