Facebook thumbs up LIKE symbol.

Thumbs Up, So What?

There are some awesome aspects of our modern life and social media is very high on the list. People in all places are able to be part of digital communities communicating globally as governments are instantaneously more vulnerable than ever to the true sentiment and will of the majority. However, there is a looming and overlooked concerned worth considering. Have we become too comfortable pressing the like and share buttons as substitute for in-person community building and engagement? Have we confused the efficiency of a Skype meeting with the effectiveness and irreplaceable nature of human contact?

Slacktivism: the illusion of supporting a cause by liking, sharing, or commenting online but taking no tangible action on behalf of the cause.

A tech friend I respect recently warned me against the rise of Slacktivism. In short, it’s the illusion of supporting a cause by liking, sharing, or commenting online but taking no tangible action on behalf of the cause. We all do it, but it becomes a sport of leisure not activism seeking social change. All social and political movements took the presence of people physically there to succeed. But it has to be stated that whatever social and political issues we champion, we must caution being inactive in real-life while seemingly supportive online. This dynamic can only weaken the voluntary associations and community ties that have, for ages, made this country and planet progress. We must not hide behind the screen. Slacktivism can become the poorest form of vigilance against compromise of our freedom and representative democracy.

Take every meeting you can in person as part of your professional and personal ethic. Put your iPhone down, talk to a neighbor, a stranger, volunteer locally, serve on a board, but be don’t be a slacktivist. I dare to say that as Millennials, we’re complicit in the election loss of the Democrats last year. Only a third of us vote, and yet I bet that a majority of us liked, shared, or commented in opposition to the other nominee without materializing our beliefs in-person...with people with whom we agree...and more importantly, with those with whom we disagree or who were undecided.

I believe very passionately that there is a sensible way to integrate and refine our digital lives with personal touch. It is no doubt more vulnerable to focus on human contact with the new and acquainted alike. But if current generations and future generations are to grow on the progress of today, it will take greater integration and activation of our digital and in-person presence. After all, we are by ancient wisdom, and practice, social and political animals.

Press the flesh, skip pressing "like" and "share" for a change.


Photo credit: angermann via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

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About The Author

Henry Cross's picture

Henry Cross grew up in sunny Miami, Florida. Upon graduating high school, he moved to the politicized Washington, D.C. and double majored in History and Politics at the Catholic University. He served as a social studies teacher in Prince George’s County Public School in 2008-2009. In the fall of 2009, he moved to New York City to continue and grow his work in education and service.

He joined Hosh Yoga in 2011 as a teacher and Program Director. And since 2013, he founded and expanded programming for the organization with Hosh Kids and Hosh Seniors. Henry's entrepreneurial spirit helped developed the organizational, program, and financial capacity of the nonprofit to deliver self-sustaining and self-supporting health and wellness services to over 3,000 children, adults, and seniors every month in a cost-effective and fairly-priced way. And from 2014 to 2016, he participated in a philanthropic role by expanding the programming, policy, and public advocacy efforts of the Sonima Foundation as Community Relations Director.

His work has been featured by the Huffington PostElephant JournalBlog Talk RadioThe NYC Social Innovation FestivalSocial Venture Institute, and multiple Brooklyn and Queens newspapers. He is an appointed New York City official of Community Board 5 in Queens, serves on a Department of Youth and Community Development Neighborhood Advisory Board, and on the board of directors of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association. And in 2015, Henry was selected as an etsy.org business fellow and awarded Top 40 Under 40 Nonprofit Rising Star. He finds joy in his community work service everyday and loves ballroom dancing!

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