If activism is the campaigning towards social or political change, and an activist works for such change, then what is hashtag activism or what does an armchair activist do?
Hashtag activism, also known as slacktivism, is a form of advocacy through the internet that requires minimal effort from its participants who simply retweet on Twitter or like a Facebook post. It requires such little effort that, since hashtag activism began through social media, everyone from normal people to celebrities like first lady, Michelle Obama, are becoming slacktivists. It’s impossible to trace the exact moment that slacktivism truly began, because the term itself, as well as the practice, existed in the 90s before the emergence of social media. Hashtag activism can still be seen as early as 2012, when the infamous #Kony2012 proliferated throughout the internet or the #JusticeforTrayvon reminded everyone that the fight for civil rights is far from over.
However, there lies controversy and confusion around the idea of hashtag activism and whether or not it actually achieves any social or political changes at all. If someone like Kony abducts children for decades, what does a retweet do to stop him? Some argue that it doesn’t accomplish anything, but others, like myself, will argue otherwise. Sure, it doesn’t immediately stop Kony from taking more children, but it does, however, indirectly help solve the problem.