As this blog is named "Language of Conflict", I wanted to return to a language-related debate.
Some of you may be aware of the new term, "Slacktivisim" ( slacker and activist combined) this word has come to mean supporting a cause passively (through,say "likes" on Facebook) rather than donating money or time to a cause.
The practice has come under criticism, especially from UNICEF. Olga Khazan wrote a great article in The Atlantic about UNICEF's battle against this form of activism. They created an ad campaign saying that clicking "like" doesn't save lives, money does.
But Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication did a study and found that social media activists, actually volunteer more, encourage others to contact representatives more and are as likely to donate money as non social media supporters.
All this time studying coaching, narrative intervention, and conflict resolution I've also learned a thing or two about identity. (A quick plug here-- George Mason's School of Conflict Resolution and Analysis has some incredible scholars working on identity)
Once people pick an identity, they will work really really hard to maintain it. For example, if I see myself as a very fit athlete, eventually I will find myself back in the gym. Because I'm a fit person; fit people are fit. If someone sees themselves as popular, they will find a way to be popular in any circumstance. The same is true for being poor, powerful, kind, etc. We want to feel consistent with who we say we are. (Tony Robbins has some great material on this)
Anyway, for this reason, I think "slacktivism" is great and I hope Georgetown does another study that looks at this issue over time. I bet over time slacker folks will start contributing if asked nicely. The more they click "like" they more they are likely to to see themselves as someone who cares about causes. They more they see themselves as someone who cares, the more likely they are to act on that. So I think UNICEF was a bit harsh, they could have gently trained these potential contributors versus shaming them. But maybe it worked. We would have to ask UNICEF.
So, I say if you like a cause, click "like"...soon you will see yourself as someone who cares and who knows, maybe you'll become a mega-contributor one day.
It all starts with caring.