Slactivism or Activism?
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
Pick a social justice tragedy (human trafficking, orphaned children, Ugandan warfare, etc) add celebrity support, create a cool hashtag for twitter (#kony2012 or #enditmovement), target a captive audience, produce relevant apparel, and watch the awareness of your platform rock the social networking world. In the past 12 months we have seen this networking soar to new heights. What do we do? Do we join the masses, swim against the current, or hit the mute button until this wave passes? I would contend that the justice movement through social media could be, like anything, a tool or a trap. Here are a few questions to consider before jumping into the next big thing:
-Are you moved by the cause or by the celebrities carrying the cause? It is one thing to champion a cause led by a celebrity, it is another to champion a celebrity by supporting their cause.
-Are you blinded by the swag? Cool apparel is simply that, cool apparel. If you want the t-shirt or the hat, buy it, but don’t confuse that for championing a cause.
-Do you agree with the strategy? If you can’t articulate the strategy behind a social justice platform, you aren’t doing the cause any favors.
-Do you know who you are really supporting? Many social media movements are advocating for other non-profits (like invisible children, International Justice Mission, Love146, the Polaris Project, Restore International, Back2Back, etc). Make sure this doesn’t become your “catfish”.
-Are you in from start to finish? Remember #Kony2012. Taking a moment to pray through and access your commitment level greatly influences your ability to finish well.
I saw two things happen last week:
60,000 college students gathered for Passion 2013 (www.268generation.com) and (with their online community) raised over 3.3 million dollars to stop human trafficking of over 27 million people in the world.
60% of the orphans championed by Back2Back ministries are now fully sponsored, 299 kids to be exact.
Both of these things are influenced by social media. Both of them put additional resources into the hands of the trained professionals working for these causes. Both do more in community than they could alone. Awareness can become action when intentionality and investment produce freedom and restoration.
In the words of my friend Kevan Duke, “we can’t do everything, but we must do something.” My family will spend the next 4 months in it to end it (enditmovement.com). We will continue to champion the life of the orphan child with Back2Back (back2back.org). We will bleed One21. Not because we are wooed by the flashy presentations, but because they reflect our biblical principles about true religion…and they are doing something.
(websites have been included in this post as a resource for you, not as an affirmation these movements.)