The issue with slacktivism

Aside from his PETA outburst, I think Joaquin Phoenix was onto something during his acceptance speech for the best actor Academy Award for “Joker.” His speech was a sociopolitical rant that included issues ranging from animal rights to personal sacrifice.

Phoenix focused on expressing his distaste for the egocentric mentality many of us have, and that we use as an excuse to ignore the commonality we have with each other. Including the belief that, although we face the same issues collectively, we’re consumed by ignorance in believing that we fight for different causes.

I agree, and genuinely believe we’re all too caught up in the differences that we see in each other’s beliefs and ideologies to notice it’s all built on the same foundation of morals.

It’s the principles of wanting to better humanity and ourselves. We want to succeed as much as possible and, I would hope, help others to do the same.

From what I’ve noticed, it’s become the barrier that has inhibited us from progressive change. Regardless if it’s conversations about the climate change, abortion rights, or immigration policies, it comes down to wanting to see improvement.

And I don’t mean hitting the like button and calling it a day, but actually raising awareness. It’s nice to think that a click on the like button ignites an actual change. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Commenting “I stand with ___” every time a tragedy doesn’t count as an effort to promote political or social change. No amount of shares or likes adequate to the awareness raised through actual, good old fashioned protesting.

For example, the Women’s March in 2017 was the largest single day protest in US history. It inspired sister protests all around the globe, from South Africa to Brazil. Personally, I think those types of protests and sit ins, that are more direct and interactive, have clearly been the most influential types of protests.

Even something as simple as volunteering your time to an organization or issue your passionate about and bringing your friends with you. Any way you can involve as many people as you can in a positive light, I see as activism. That makes a difference.

It’s ridiculous the amount of time we waste arguing with the other side about why what they believe is wrong. It doesn’t matter that what they believe is based on stupidity.

Let them be. We aren’t going to convince anyone if we’re drowned in our own arguments.

We have to just listen. Even if it’s for a minute or two, we’re lucky to have the freedom to hear different perspectives. It’s a privilege that we don’t take advantage of. There’s honestly no harm in it, unless we’re too consumed in our ego.

After listening, we can then feel free to respectfully rebut them with our reasoning. If we want to incite change, we have to do it ourselves because relying on other people to start a movement takes way too long and usually isn’t very effective.

This goes for politicians and for social media. This is kind of cheesy, but I try to remind myself of what Gandhi said; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” From making it a goal to stop procrastinating and study for a math test to actively supporting movements such as March For Our Lives, it applies to every situation.

Honestly, I don’t think many people, at least at New Trier, are going to protest every weekend. That isn’t the problem. The problem is there’s an overwhelming amount of issues thrown at us that we need to worry about.

Whether it’s environmental or human rights issues, the newest trend to get involved in is circulated in the media. And it’s impossible to keep up. The only way we’re really engaged in social media or news media is through the updates we get on what’s going on. However, I believe if we care enough about certain issues, we should look outside our screens to ignite the change we’re looking to others to fulfill. That’s activism.