Lately, campus and much of Montreal have been the stage for quite a number of political and social causes demanding attention. Many—if not most—of these causes are pretty important. A lot of them, such as paying workers fair pensions, are just generally good ideas. If every student was a really great person, the chances are we would all participate in many a social movement. But alas, most of us aren’t really great people; we’re only mediocre people. Thus, successfully effecting social change often gets relegated to the bottom of the to-do list.
However, this need not be cause for dismay, fellow colleagues in mediocrity. For I have compiled a list of activist-y things that will make you feel great while creating absolutely zero positive impact. The name of this brilliant idea is slacktivism. The following are among my personal favourite slacktivist actions.
Useless action number one: particpate in all Facebook status ‘awareness movements.’ Change your display pic to a cartoon to demonstrate your distaste for child abuse. Child abuse sucks; Winnie the Pooh agrees. Tell us where you like to “leave your purse” to lend your support to breast cancer awareness. Post a link to an online petition that doesn’t exist. Type away heroes, type away.
Useless action number two: get a MUNACA pin. Pin it on a backpack. Put the backpack in your closet. Forget you have it. Alternatively, wear your MUNACA pin everyday and sit inside drinking tea while McGill employees shiver for their rights just outside the Roddick gates. Talk about how much you support the strike to your close friends and other folks without leverage to make change. Feel like an incredibly sensitive and empathetic person.
Useless action number three: walk by Occupy Montreal on your way home from school. Whenever anything about money or banks comes up in conversation, vaguely mumble, “We are the 99%” and talk about how the protest changed your life. Follow your vague mumblings with something even more vague about equality. Everyone knows that walking by a protest is basically the same as actually protesting. Realistically, if you had actually stayed long enough to protest, you would just be taking the spot of someone who actually cared, so if you think about it, you’re taking one for the team.
Useless action number four: drastically reduce your level of personal grooming. Talk about subverting societal norms to anyone who will listen. Mutter words like “patriarchy” and “system” whenever people question your greasy hair. Make sure your argument is incoherent enough not to confuse people into thinking your action is logical.
Useless action number five: read the headline of an online article. Mention it often and in all of your classes. Say things like “I read this article on human trafficking/animal cruelty/war/famine and I would just like to say that it is really important that we think about that.” Not do anything, just think about it. And think. And think. At all social events, talk incessantly about how human trafficking/animal cruelty/war/famine is really important to you and you are so, so passionate about it.
With just these five actions, I guarantee that you will feel like the student equivalent of Gandhi. There is no need to get in the way of those folks that are actually asserting their rights the best way they know how, so just fake it.