Slactivism

And How About Today?

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ruok-skywritingRUOK Day has come and gone. Let’s all get back to watching the rugby…

I know, I know. This is not a binary choice either way. It is good to be critical, and it is also good to try. You never know the consequence of your actions.

This post is about RUOK Day- it was earlier this week, and you can read my post that I posted then here.

The point is that all too often ‘raising awareness’ ends once the enthusiasm from the celebrity laced event concludes. It becomes namedropping collateral, humblebrag for another time. Or is it?

Yes, I jest. Sort of. My point is though that if we care, then we should do more than just be satisfied with a minimalist approach to slacktivism.

This blog is about improving child survival. My earlier post was about improving mental health among veterans. Where is the connection?

This is what is on my mind: too often there is great enthusiasm to talk about an initiative, especially among politicians. After the press brief, it is back to business as usual. Not for those who are in the thick of it. Not for veterans struggling. And importantly not in the remote villages where child mortality is an unwanted blight.

No, while these things still prevail, I am not ok. And neither should you be.

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If only it was this easy

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Little Chestnut saved by Ze Frank

Ze Frank recently completed a Kickstarter crowdfunding exercise. I helped out responding to his offer of saving one of fifty babies from toy sharks and lions. The photo is here on the blog post, or click on this link to see all of the babies saved.

Is it alright to include this in a discussion about child mortality? Does it present something overly flippant?

In this case, no. I think it is fine. I don’t intend to make light of a serious problem, but only to suggest that all too often our efforts at ‘saving babies’ are not much more involved than with Ze Frank’s stunt. Neither was he addressing this issue of child mortality.

Rather, it is a reminder of what has been referred to as the ‘White Savior Industrial Complex‘ by Teju Cole in an article that is well worth reading (click the title for the link). Addressing complex social need goes beyond the simplicity of the emotionally charged presentations like we see in Kony 2012 or when we are accosted by charity muggers.

If only making change was this easy. It is hard work. That is part of the metaphor involved in the 10 City Bridge Run running stunt: 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries all inside of one month. Much more palatable just to write someone a cheque, but that is not how things get done.

Facebook outrage.

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This was shot at the WTO protests Seattle,1999...
Avoid the CS Gas and capsicum spray...

Is technology and social media an help or an hindrance? Facebook has opened up communication for us all in ways that have changed us forever, most of them good ways. But in the process, what have we lost? Have we corrupted the words ‘friend’ and ‘like’?

My friend Virginia has an expression she calls “Facebook outrage”, which means to post on Facebook about a cause you feel strongly about. She thinks it sucks, because it is so lame- many people do little more for the issue after the initial post. A damning reflection on activism in the modern age.

Tom, another friend speaks of ‘slactivism’. You know, the easy stuff. Changing your avatar. Pressing ‘like’ on a petition. No big deal.

That’s the problem, no big deal.

He argues that even these small gestures do matter. I guess he has a point, and I would agree with him. I think there also has to be more as well.

I want you to go just a little bit further a build a human bridge this March, when we march on child mortality. Trite as it might be, but it is true: together, we really can make a difference.