Judith Butler's Theory Of Social Activism

1606 Words 7 Pages
In social networking sites individuals have the opportunity to perform identity. One has selective control over what attributes he or she wishes to display and thus, can present his or her best self. As philanthropy moves into online spheres, people engage in activism differently. Online activism is considered slacktivist, where no real effect results from an individual’s actions. Viral social movements such as The Ice Bucket Challenge and Kony 2012, although yielding different results, question whether charitable activities online are activist or slacktivist. Using Judith Butler’s theory of identity performance, I argue users of social networking sites perform philanthropy to present their best selves, rather than simply engaging in activist …show more content…
Social networks allow non-profits to access a wide number of people through weak ties. Liking a non-profit’s Facebook page, sharing a social video, or commenting on a post, are all ways users on SNS contribute to a social cause. However, activist activities online are often described as slacktivism which is defined by Cerise Glenn in her article Activism or "Slacktivism?" Digital Media and Organizing for Social Change, as a combination of the words "slacker" and "activism" where minimal time, effort, and mobilization [are] used to attempt to solve a social issue (82). To help a cause, users can be in the comfort of their home and use a technological device to feel as if they have contributed to a noble cause. Subsequently, that will likely be the extent of a social media user 's activism online. Cat Jones calls these online activist activities "token support", where a user 's contributions require very little cost, effort, or behaviour change (3). Thus, users feel as if they are doing something useful because of the simplicity of sharing online material. However, critics argue whether this type of philanthropy is effective or if it just a form of impression management. Kirk Kristofferson, Katherine White, and John Peloza’s study suggests, "participating in token acts of support may not necessarily lead to a higher likelihood of engaging in more …show more content…
Hence, when engaging in digital activism, people engage in public token support to enhance and maintain a positive image. Digital ‘slacktivism’ can be a starting point for social movements because it allows massive dissemination of information. However, simply posting or sharing on SNS creates an illusion of a social movement. Additional actions need to be done for a person to be considered socially conscious. As seen through the examples such as Kony 2012 and The Ice Bucket Challenge, SNS work well to disseminate information and engage the public; however, this can lead to misinformation and overpowering of a trend. Thus, people primarily engage in activism online to present their best self to their social network and to receive validation for their virtual socially-conscious

Related Documents