In Defense of Slacktivism

That first click is a door opener for people and makes them want to do more and more stuff.

I think the Internet has been the best thing to happen to advocates and advocacy as a practice.  You hear criticisms of slacktivism or clicktivism or whatever the term is, and the fear is that people will sit on their couch instead of going to publicly demonstrate or whatever the preferred action is.  At the Obama campaign we found quite the opposite. 

That first click is a door opener for people and makes them want to do more and more stuff.  We were really clear that the most important thing we wanted our volunteers to do was to go knock on doors if they could – and some people can’t.

The second most important thing was to make phone calls.  It was way, way less important to share and retweet and open our emails.  If you did that, though, it was a pretty good sign that you were a good prospect for going to go knock on doors. 

And so we thought of that as a great lead generation mechanism and not as a threat to the actual offline organizing that we cared about.  Now that being said, what the Internet and what social media is doing is it’s making the voices of ordinary people impossible to ignore.  For instance, 90 percent of Americans support background checks for gun purchases and the Senate decided not to heed those voices.  

Now, that’s not great and that sort of thing has to get better and I suspect it will.  But there was a time ten years ago when we might have not even known that 90 percent of the people in the United States supported background checks.  There would have been nothing they could do.  If they got called by a pollster, great, then they could make their voices heard.  But otherwise there was nothing they could do.  And now absolutely everybody if they want to can be engaged in the act of participating in conversation and trying to influence their friends.  There’s lots of different ways to go about that but nothing is really as powerful as just the simple act of letting your friends know where you stand.

People really care what their friends think and Facebook and Twitter give us these incredibly powerful public forums in which you can say "I’m for gay marriage." I don’t think anybody thinks that the gay marriage issue could have moved as quickly as it did over the past ten years without the Internet.  Or "I’m for background checks."  These platforms are an increasingly important part of how policies get set. 

Now we still have a government that doesn’t always perfectly reflect the wishes of our people and many smart people are working on changing that.  But now everybody who voted no on that bill knows perfectly well and all their constituents know perfectly well that they acted against the will of their constituents.  And that’s going to be an increasingly important part of their decision-making process going forward.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy fo Shutterstock

How Pete Holmes creates comedic flow: Try micro-visualization

Setting a simple intention and coming prepared can help you — and those around you — win big.

  • Setting an intention doesn't have to be complicated, and it can make a great difference when you're hoping for a specific outcome.
  • When comedian Pete Holmes is preparing to record an episode of his podcast, "You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes," he takes 15 seconds to check in with himself. This way, he's primed with his own material and can help guests feel safe and comfortable to share theirs, as well.
  • Taking time to visualize your goal for whatever you've set out to do can help you, your colleagues, and your projects succeed.
Keep reading Show less

The 5 most intelligent video games and why you should play them

Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.

(Photo from Flickr)
Culture & Religion
  • Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
  • Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
  • These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
Keep reading Show less

Bigotry and hate are more linked to mass shootings than mental illness, experts say

How do we combat the roots of these hateful forces?

Photo credit: Rux Centea on Unsplash
Politics & Current Affairs
  • American Psychological Association sees a dubious and weak link between mental illness and mass shootings.
  • Center for the study of Hate and Extremism has found preliminary evidence that political discourse is tied to hate crimes.
  • Access to guns and violent history is still the number one statistically significant figure that predicts gun violence.
Keep reading Show less